Recovery is underway in many parts of the world and travel is beginning to pick up again. While 2022 might still be a year of ups and downs, things are starting to look up for the travel industry. We looked into our crystal ball and have shared our trend predictions for 2022 to help you get prepared.
Here are the travel industry trends that hoteliers should understand for 2022:
1. Low-key events
Events are back, but people are looking for more intimate options like smaller venues, no-frills weddings etc. Even as restrictions are easing, these smaller gatherings are favoured for remote team meetups and socialising too.
"Events are slowly coming back. Hotels are trying to grasp a share of these, like team outings, Christmas parties or off-sites. Corporate events are still very shaky because of international travel but events are coming back." - Baris Borucu, Director of Business Development - Europe at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? When creating weddings or events packages, keep in mind this shift towards smaller, more intimate (and often casual) events. By offering new MICE options, you can open your hotel up to a new group of guests, for example, remote workers attending social gatherings.
2. Wellness and balance
After so much time cramped up at home, people are seeking nature escapes. Searches increased for forest (100%) and mountain resorts (7x) year on year. And if people can’t get away, they’re trying to bring the spa to their home. Sleep sanctuaries and ritual bathing are growing search trends, with people searching for silk sleepwear, cosy robes and weighted blankets.
"Individuals will be even more conscious of where they want to travel to and what experience they are seeking. Just room nights isn't going to be enough anymore. Hotels need to focus on creating experiences for their guests. The pandemic taught us the importance of mental and physical health, which will impact resorts and retreats, as people grow more health-conscious." - Nadine Schröder, Account Management and Inbound Sales Executive at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? It’s great news if you’re located in nature, but if not, don’t count yourself out of this one. Even city hotels can get in on this trend by focussing on creating a story around relaxation and me-time. Think to position and package a stay with a luxurious bath or, cosy bed with lots of pillows, sound-proofed room, relaxing lighting. Be creative.
Work and travel are changing. More than one-third of remote employees would rather quit than go back to the office full-time. And the popularity of being a digital nomad will continue to grow with more people wanting to live and work somewhere else remotely.
"I think we will see hotels benefiting from spend, whether it be rooms or more so F&B spend from 'work from anywhere' employees who don’t want to be in the office but also don’t want to be at home." - Philip Hyland, Director of Business Development at Hotelchamp
As well as long-stay trips, travellers are planning to make use of flexibility with more off-peak travel, weeknight stays and spontaneous trips. Bleisure will return in a new form as the boundaries of work-life balance continue to shift.Instead of just tagging a few days onto a work trip, business travellers have the flexibility to create longer stays. Long-term stays for business travel more than doubled for Airbnb and 28+ nights were their fastest-growing trip-length category in Q2 2021. "There will be fewer trips but when people go, they'll go for longer and it won't only be for leisure. On Airbnb now, you can select that you're looking for a place to work remotely from. Pre-pandemic, we would have said that free WiFi wasn't really a good USP but now WiFi becomes an important point again because you need to be able to have Zoom meetings, not just send a few WhatsApp pictures." - Remco Schut, Key Account Manager at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? Think about offering long-stay discounts and packages that emphasise key things that digital nomads will be looking for: fast WiFi speed, laundry services, room facilities. If you’re looking to tap into the remote working market, consider creating attractive day packages so that people can make the most of your facilities, without having to book a room night.
4. Business is back
Business travellers (84%) are eager to travel. Almost half of business travellers believe they'll meet or exceed pre-pandemic levels of travel by the end of 2022. Towards the end of 2021, as restrictions began to ease, we saw more events begin to pick up, including in the travel industry. This is promising for parts of business travel, although other areas may be slower to pick up again, including face-to-face meetings that have successfully transitioned to a virtual format.
"Based on conversations I have had with hotels in Berlin, the business sector is recovering! One of our larger hotels (500 rooms) mentioned that they have been hosting a lot of smaller meetings, team get-togethers, parties of 8, in their conference rooms which are still going strong. They are also starting to receive large conference requests again. If you are a business hotel, saddle up your marketing horse and increase your visibility for the MICE sector." - Helen Skiba, Key Account Manager at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? Take a fresh look at your MICE and business packages—are these still relevant for post-pandemic business travellers? Make sure to make their stays frictionless with personalised packages and contactless check-ins if possible. Bleisure will see a big uptake again as business travel picks up, so if you’re a city hotel, make sure you’re reaching these travellers by showing them targeted campaigns that highlight public transport, local experiences and breakfast.
5. Road trips
Travel preferences are changing. Travel by car has increased to 40%. Air travel has dropped to its lowest point since Sep 2020 (46%) due to the interest in domestic travel and neighbouring countries. More people are planning road trips through nature, searching for cabin rentals and using remote work as a great excuse to explore the outdoors. Think nature, road trips and camping. Getting away from it all.
“This year, instead of just renting a room in the city, you could rent a van from the Hoxton. You could pick it up in Amsterdam and then go on a mini-road trip. These brands tend to be early adopters, so it will be interesting to see if any other brands start to pick up these trends as well.” - Victoria Sweeney, Director of Marketing at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? If your hotel has multiple locations within driving distance, think about creating a road trip itinerary, that includes notable activities and landmarks along the way. This could become a package offer with a reduced rate and suggested route that travellers can easily book. A road trip itinerary is also a great piece of content to turn into a blog or guide and then share on your website and social channels, such as Instagram and Pinterest. Travellers want to have local knowledge and find hidden gems—and this is something that your team can help share.
6. Pet-friendly travel
More than half of households with pets want to take their four-legged friends with them when they travel. Especially when it comes to Next-Gen (Millennial and Gen-Z), 70% of Next-Gen pet owners say they're more likely to travel if their pets are welcome.
Airbnb and Hiltonhave reported the popularity of their pet-friendly filters, with the “pet-friendly” filter now the third most used on the Hilton website. Other brands are already adapting to this demand too, with Valamar including an option for “pets” in the guest selection process of their booking engine. “Next-Gen, Millennials and Gen-Z, are growing up and getting more money and freedom. A lot of them don’t have kids, but they have money and time and they want to go travelling. Many of them are remote workers, so they can go travelling and when they go, they want to take their fur-children with them as well.” - Victoria Sweeney, Director of Marketing at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? Many hotels are starting to offer pet-friendly packages and options for travellers. These hotels often have specific rooms for guests with pets. If your hotel hasn’t explored this option yet, have a think if that would be manageable for you. Pet-friendly packages can include special treats, merchandise and experiences for pets, but you can also just offer a specific room rate (often slightly more than normal to account for extra cleaning) when a pet is staying.
Two-thirds of consumers consider sustainable travel a priority. Next-Gen travellers are more likely to consider sustainable options and to also feel guilty about their negative impact on the environment, compared with other generations. Hotels are adapting their practices to become more sustainable. Even Google is making changes to create more transparency around travel sustainability. Google Hotels will show information about a hotel's sustainability efforts and Google Flights presents carbon emissions estimates for most flight searches.
“It’s really interesting to see these travel trends that might have been interrupted by the pandemic, for example, the move away from air travel and towards train travel where possible. And now that things are opening up again, seeing the combination of people being concerned about their safety, and cleanliness on aeroplanes but then also combining the sustainability aspect into it, if that accelerates those trends even further.” - Victoria Sweeney, Director of Marketing at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? If your hotel is already taking part in sustainable practices, make sure that this is clearly highlighted on your website. This could be a dedicated page about sustainability or just information on your rooms pages. There are a lot of different things that your hotel can do to make a positive sustainable change, such as implementing better waste management practices, partnering with local sustainable organisations and offsetting emissions.
8. Dream vacations
While travellers will be planning their short term trips closer to home, the desire to travel further afield, and make up for lost time is strong. During these restricted times, people have been dreaming of their ideal vacation destinations and will make the most of extra savings and planning to make these dreams a reality. In 2021, searches for dream vacations (7x) and luxury vacations (50%) grew year on year. Once in a lifetime experiences like hiking to base camp on Mount Everest were popular dream destinations during the pandemic. "Guest experience is key. In a world where travellers are looking for experience, unique setups and wow moments, it's not enough to sell a room. It's about a hoteliers brand, their communication on Instagram and how they engage with travellers to create these experiences." - André Bressel, COO at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? Surprise and delight are keywords for these travellers. While your hotel might not be base camp on Mount Everest, you can still create memorable and wonderful experiences for your guests. Offering unique upsell options for special in-room experiences or even surprising your guests with a small gift, such as a welcome drink, can create a great lasting memory for them as they start to travel again.
9. Direct is key for recovery
During the pandemic, guest attitudes towards OTAs have shifted, with many now favouring direct bookings—this hasn’t been the case for the past few years. This change in sentiment is great news for hoteliers, as direct bookings are essential during this recovery period. Hoteliers shouldn’t get complacent with this though—you’ll need to remain competitive and invest into creating the best offer and booking experience for your guests to stay ahead.
"Keeping costs low is still an important point for many hoteliers, still living through their recovery period. Acquiring guests and improving direct channel conversion is what matters and that is where Metasearch and Convert add value. - Nareh Torosian, Product Owner at Hotelchamp "Direct bookings will get teeth. For years, hotels have been chasing short-term gains by joining OTA loyalty programmes like Booking.com's Genius programme, or mobile-only rates. By doing so, they have incentivised guests to stick with OTAs, download their apps, and book on their platforms. It's no surprise that guests keep coming back to OTAs. For many hotels, it is too late to withdraw from OTA loyalty programmes without suffering catastrophic visibility loss. The only way to stay competitive is to offer more generous discounts to their direct channel, and ensure (at minimum) parity with OTA loyalty prices." - Solution Architect at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure that your hotel can be found by your guests. This means investing in Metasearch and being visible there. OTAs already understand the advantages of Metasearch and are benefiting from it while hotels catch up. In 2022, Metasearch will be essential for getting direct bookings. Hoteliers should also audit their direct booking benefits and room rates—are these still competitive with what OTAs are offering? If not, it’s important to adjust so that you can put money into your guests and invest in direct bookings, rather than OTA commissions.
10. Staff shortages and tech adoption
"The biggest challenge threatening the recovery of hotels is human capital and hotels being able to attract not only the adequate amount but also the right talent to run the business and operation." - Philip Hyland, Director of Business Development at Hotelchamp
As hoteliers are already aware, the staff shortages the industry are facing are going to be incredibly tough and the impact will be felt beyond 2022. In order to continue to provide the best experience for their guests, hotels will have to find trusted technology partners that can help make their jobs easier. Contactless check-ins, automation, real-time safety notifications and hyper-localised personalisation will continue to be important for hotels. Investing in tech is key.
"While hotel operations are highly dependent on great hospitality tech, hoteliers simply don't have the time and staff to facilitate these necessary tools themselves. Hotel technology providers recognise the insane staff shortages at hotels and offer more models where their teams act as extensions of a hotelier's team." - André Bressel, COO at Hotelchamp Looking ahead to the future beyond 2022, hotels should start to think about how Cryptocurrency will impact travel (accepting payments) as well as virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.
What does this trend mean for hotels? Where possible, use technology instead of people power. There are so many great technology providers out there that you can partner with to reduce the load on your teams. Look at working with technology providers that can take care of more than one aspect of your tech stack too, for example, at Hotelchamp, we can help with multiple aspects of your guests' online experience, from acquisition to conversion. Your tech partners should make your life easier, rather than more complicated, and that’s something our team of experts can help with.
Flexible travel is the future. It’s no surprise that after the ups and downs of 2020 and 2021, travellers want to be able to book with confidence, and that often means being able to adjust their trips without penalties. 87% of travellers said flexibility is important when travelling. This flexibility is one of the reasons why guest sentiment towards OTAs have changed—many found that OTAs didn’t offer them flexible cancellations when the pandemic hit, and were out of pocket. In contrast, travellers found that hotels were more willing to adjust their stays, and this has benefited hotels.
"Being flexible with reservations is important, so all of the customers that I've talked to are still keeping their flexible offers." - Cansin Tuna, Customer Success Manager at Hotelchamp
What does this trend mean for hotels? In 2022, flexible travel terms will be expected by guests. 68% of travellers say that the world won’t go back to the way it was in 2019 and they’ve made it clear that flexible travel is the future. Make sure that your rates include options for flexibility—whether that means you offer both a refundable and non-refundable rate, or even flexibility on moving dates—it’s essential to have these options for guests.
12. Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and Inclusion is not a trend. It’s an important principle that hotels need to adjust for and be aware of. Inclusivity and accessibility, both online and onsite, are so critical. Long overdue changes are starting to be enforced in different markets, including requirements for websites such as colour contrast, alt-text and making it easy for visitors to navigate your website without using a mouse. In 2022, hotels that aren’t taking this into consideration will be left behind. There are over 1.2 billion people in the world with a disability, and yet many places and websites don’t accommodate their needs.
In 2022, we’ll see more hotels making positive changes to be more inclusive, such as using representative imagery, gender-neutral language and pronouns and website design without stereotypical depictions and binary views on gender.
What does this mean for hotels? Get familiar with the principles of accessible web design—while some of these things might not be required by law yet, there are a great number of people who aren’t able to use your website if you’re missing these design features. Highlight clearly on your website any features that make your property accessible, including staff that know sign language, grab bars in bathrooms, wide-entrance elevators, step-free entrances, accessible parking spots etc. These are important property features that help people with disabilities choose a hotel and often this information is missing from websites.
Next steps for 2022 To find out how your hotel can use technology to best prepare for 2022, book a free consultation with our team of experts. We’ll take a look at your current online presence and share how you can adapt to be ready for what the coming year holds. As with the past two years, 2022 will hold more challenges and opportunities for hotels, and our team is here to help.