SEATTLE—Expedia Group unveiled a comprehensive view of trends across the broader travel industry in 2023. Sourced from the company’s first-party data and from custom research of thousands of travelers and industry professionals across 17 countries, these travel trends prove there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to travel in 2023. Instead, these trends point to a year defined by the “no-normal.”
“When we look at Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo data together, we see a detailed and robust picture of travel into 2023,” said Jon Gieselman, president, Expedia Brands. “We’re seeing a surge in trips to culture capitals, a new wave of interest in wellness retreats, and a spike in demand for outdoor destinations beyond just beaches and mountains—not a new normal but people branching out to unexpected trends in what we’re calling the ‘no normal’.”
Travel Trends in 2023
Booking a trip after binging a popular new series will be popular in 2023. Expedia research confirms that streaming movies and TV shows are now the top sources of travel inspiration (40 percent), outpacing the influence of social media (31 percent). Furthermore, the small screen is now considered on par with recommendations from friends and family when it comes to travel.
In the United States, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of travelers considered visiting a destination after seeing it in a show or movie on a streaming platform, and a whopping 61 percent booked a trip. The top set-jetter destinations include New Zealand, followed by the United Kingdom, Paris, New York, and Hawaii.
Expedia: Culture Capitals
National parks and rural retreats have had moments these past two years. Now, it’s time for cities to see a comeback. Based on traveler demand, most of the destinations seeing the largest increases are cities where art and culture festivities are coming back.
Hotels.com: Three-star Properties
Travelers are seeking smarter ways to see the world, without compromising on comfort or aesthetics. In the United States, nearly a third (32 percent) of travelers are more concerned with value for money than ever before. Hotels.com data shows interest is up more than 20 percent globally in three-star hotels.
In 2023, 40 percent of U.S. travelers plan to stay in one–three-star hotels, and 34 percent plan to book a vacation with added value inclusions, such as free parking or breakfast. Showing a shift in mindset from the post-pandemic bucket-list mentality and moving towards a more spontaneous approach, one-third of travelers would rather go on more trips in three-star properties than splurge on one luxury getaway. Fewer stars do not mean lower standards, however.
Hotels.com: New Wave Wellness
According to Hotels.com, more than half (53 percent) of U.S. travelers are seeking wellness breaks but cite boredom with traditional retreats and want to experience something more exciting in 2023. Millennials are the top drivers of this, as 60 percent of 25-34-year-olds are seeking out alternative wellness getaways. Most travelers want to explore new offerings in the United States. However, Gen Z would prefer to book an adventure to Norway, Turkey, Switzerland, Iceland, and Sri Lanka.
Hotels.com: New hotel openings around the world
New hotels that cater to evolving traveler needs are opening around the world. These properties offer more than a place to sleep, with destination restaurants, co-working spaces, and interiors as standard.
Nearly half of U.S. travelers (43 percent) are using cooking to cut down on costs. More than half (57 percent) of travelers would rather book a unique vacation home to be with their people in a lesser-known destination than a less interesting, less equipped vacation home in a popular area. And 42 percent of U.S. travelers find inspiration in outdoorsy destinations and landscapes.
The Travel Industry Moves Forward
The research from Expedia Group shows the highest levels of optimism since 2020. Most professionals expect leisure (71 percent) and business (70 percent) travel to return to pre-2020 levels within two years. While travelers looking for a change of scenery kept the industry afloat during the pandemic, all eyes are on the return of international and business travel. In fact, more than half (51 percent) in the industry say business is their organization’s highest priority in 2023.
Another insight from industry professionals shows travelers are choosing options aligned with their personal values such as sustainability, inclusivity, and accessibility. Most travel businesses (6 percent%) made changes in the last year to ensure their services are inclusive and accessible. In fact, sustainability is tied with marketing as the highest area of investment for 2023, with one in five industry professionals saying they plan to invest in sustainability next year.