Many of us have hardly left our country of residence, if at all, in the past 2-3 years. This year, the headwinds have changed, consumers are craving to finally get away and the statistics are starting to reflect a strong determination to do so. To decompress from the past few years, a far-flung location is on the wishlist for many, but whilst the virus seems to have become all but a distant memory, the subsequent challenges it has brought are all very real and ongoing with regards to our summer vacation 2022.
The hospitality and leisure industry is set to flourish this summer, with bookings on the rise according to Skift. There has been a consumer shift in 2022 with shoppers putting their $’s back into services and less so into goods, with airlines, hotels, bars and restaurants all reporting strong demand, according to recent reports on an influx of booking rates observed by travel booking sites. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your passport and your sunhat - it’s time to take off… with caution!
Tourism is bouncing back, can the travel industry cope?
Demand is currently outstripping the capacity of the hospitality and tourism industry in the last few weeks and months. Multiple issues have culminated into a perfect storm for travel chaos this summer, with many travelers experiencing queues snaking out of the airport doors, lost baggage and flight cancellation. One TUI co-pilot was hailed a "hero" after loading passengers’ baggage onto the plane himself due to airport staff shortages, in this viral video.
As governments around the world are almost unanimous in adopting a "living with Covid" strategy, and mostly all have dropped the requirements for vaccination to enter, we find ourselves in a new phase of the saga whereby the past years’ events are now shaping the rocky present and future of the hospitality and travel industry. The macro-environment is fragile due to a sharp surge in demand, labour shortages, supply chain issues and soaring overheads. In short, the outlook is turbulent to say the least.
The big question for us holiday-goers is, how does all of this really affect our vacations in 2022?
The labor shortage - patience is a virtue
The number of people employed in the hospitality industry in 2022 is just 1% below pre-pandemic levels and 21.5% up on 2020, currently standing at 330 million worldwide. However, due to pent up demand, a surge in tourism has meant that there are many more vacant roles that the hospitality labor supply simply can’t fill. Travelers can expect chaos from long queues at airport check-in, delays and a higher chance of lost baggage, to understaffed hotels and restaurants taking longer to meet your needs. Whilst hospitality staff are trained professionals in offering service excellence, the ongoing labor shortage means you should expect slightly lower levels of customer experience and to approach the overstretched staff with friendliness and patience.
Supply chain issues - be curious, go local
Global logistics company, DHL, recently wrote, “The long tail of the pandemic has continued to create problems for the logistics industry too, exacerbating supply chain stress points across many sectors.” What does this mean for you? Hotels, restaurants and bars may not be receiving certain perishable goods, so you might not be able to have your favorite whisky. The best way to avoid disappointment: enjoy some local delicacies!
Prices going up - don’t expect much bang for your buck
It’s hard not to have noticed that the cost of living has gone up in recent months, from the fuel we put in our cars, our food shop, to our energy bills. Travel and tourism will not escape these rises. Travel metasearch site Kayak has reported 17% increases in flights this year compared to the same period in 2019, citing jet fuel as the primary cause. So, travelers can expect everything from a flight to a double scoop of pistachio gelato to noticeably go up in price.
Summer travel trends 2022
According to a new report by Skyscanner in 2019, 35 percent of travelers were planning and booking trips further in advance. The average back then was at least 90 days or more before departure. While the amount of these trips have decreased in volume, the 30-59 day and 60-89 day segments for booking horizons have increased significantly, at a 24 percent and 38 percent increase.
1. Rest & relaxation - the wellness vacation
Rest, relaxation and wellness seem to be high on the agenda for holiday makers this year. Skyscanner claims: "Ultimate relaxation is the most popular trip type, with over 40% of travelers dreaming of a getaway to ease their mind, body and soul". The past few years of the pandemic have taken its toll on our mental and physical health, but it has also given people space and time to reflect and listen to their bodies. Now we can finally go away again, we will use our vacation time more wisely to focus on recharging our bodies in order to be ready and healthy in our regular lives.
2. Multi-generational family vacations
According to travel site Black Tomato, this summer we’re putting right the necessary wrong of spending so little time with family members since the pandemic took hold. Big cross generational family get-togethers are on the agenda for many, as the perfect antidote from the solitude many people have coped with over the past few years. What better than a reunification in an exotic land full of new experiences to bond over?
3. Adventure vacation into the unknown
Intrepid travel is seeing a huge rise in demand this year as travelers seek fast paced, adrenaline-filled trips that put them in an environment totally opposite to your everyday life. This is echoed by the Skyscanner report which found that the length of trips is evolving this year - of the 48 percent of respondents who said they would spend more in 2022, they said that this spend increase will be going towards longer trips. For travelers, this pursuit of the "opposite" is ultimately about newness, a taste of the unknown. And after months of diminished horizons, they’re facing it with newfound confidence and incomparable elan. There’s boldness here with travelers who’ve been digging deep, seeking sights and experiences that they’ve long dreamt of and have finally put them into action. "Every trip has been a literal breath of fresh air,” said Tom Marchant, Black Tomato co-founder.
4. The solo trip
In 2022, it’s time to indulge in self care. A solo trip allows for selfish choices, zero compromise and a bit of luxury. Whether it’s a city break or a trip into the wilderness, solo travel of all kinds is booming. The past few years has allowed people to take stock of their lives and invest in their personal development. This trend rings true with the Skyscanner report which found that 86 percent of survey respondents said that they plan to spend at least the same on international travel than in 2019, with half of that number saying they will spend more on travel in 2022.
5. The workation
The pandemic caused an acceleration of remote working, allowing workers to reap the benefits of fitting travel around their work schedule - dubbed the "Workation". According to an ONS survey of UK workers in 2022, the hybrid working pattern looks set to stay as more than 8 in 10 workers who had to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic said they planned to continue hybrid working, whilst one in seven adults work exclusively remotely. An Airbnb survey showed those who are able to work remotely are booking longer trips of 2+ weeks to make the most of cheaper rates for longer stays and access to natural surroundings whilst taking minimal annual leave. Hotels are also adapting their offering to meet demand with rooms and shared spaces designed around remote working and special workation deals.
4 tips to avoid holiday disappointment this summer
Book through as few companies as possible. When booking a vacation, package holidays are a good idea this year. This is especially important if booking tours and excursions: try to book as much as possible through one single operator. The fewer stakeholders involved in your trip, the more ownership they have over the entire vacation and the knock-on impact one cancellation could have on other elements of the trip. Therefore in the case your trip is disrupted or cancelled, you’ll be more likely to be offered a refund or alternative dates.
Book at the last minute. With last minute cancellations rife, if you can hold your nerve and be flexible with your plans, waiting for a last minute package deal could mean that the trip is going ahead without any unexpected surprises. Now is the time for spontaneity!
Read the fine print in your travel insurance deal. Insurance price comparison website Compare the Market said that all the travel insurance policies listed on their website are “likely to cover claims related to COVID-19 for emergency medical and repatriation costs.” However, be aware that not all policies on Compare the Market cover non-medical issues, such as flight or hotel cancellations. Always book with a credit card for double protection.
Arrive earlier than usual at the airport. Due to airport staff shortages, travelers are experiencing longer queues for check-in, bag drop and security. This has resulted in some people missing their flights even though they were at the airport with plenty of time. To ensure you make it to your gate in time, build in an extra hour on top of the recommended amount of time to arrive pre-flight.
Saying yes to travel!
If you’re lucky enough to be able to take a vacation this year - savour it! It may not be exactly what you’re used to, but no doubt you will have a newfound appreciation for travel and the hospitality staff who enable us to have these transversal experiences. It seems that the common thread of travel trends this summer is one of travel being a deep human desire, a birthright of sorts - something that this year we are resolute not to forego for anything.
The moral of the story for those traveling in summer 2022? You will travel differently this year, that’s for sure. 72 percent of us are going to say ‘yes’ to travel this year (budget allowing, of course), and 61 percent of us will admit to being more open to various types of holidays, whether it’s a party mini break with friends or a solo yoga retreat. Whether you go to Taiwan, Brazil or the Dominican Republic, this is the year to just say "yes!"