The return of travel in 2022: What travel brands can look forward to this year
February 1st, 2022, Eva Stewart

The return of travel in 2022: What travel brands can look forward to this year

Last year’s news about rising and declining Covid-19 cases, emerging variants, and the relaxing and retightening of travel restrictions make it difficult to predict what the state of travel will be in 2022. Destinations are responding with measures that prioritise quality tourism over quantity whilst travel brands are redesigning their campaigns to fit changes in consumer attitudes driven by the pandemic.

Understanding travellers’ feelings and expectations will be paramount to improving end-to-end and rekindling the demand.

YouGov’s daily travel sentiment tracker shows that the negative impact from Omicron was short-lived with domestic and international leisure travel demand bouncing back to 54% and 35%, respectively, during the first week of January. British consumers are feeling more positively about the COVID situation globally improving and therefore are more confident in making travel plans this year.

What’s more, sentiment data from YouGov shows that roughly a quarter of all Britons expect to spend more on travel over the course of 2022 (24%).

Britons’ dream destinations

The beginning of the year is typically a busy season to book summer holidays, so where are Britons planning to go?

Spain continues to top the list of the most highly considered destinations among potential holidaymakers this year. Close to half of all Britons who say they will take an international holiday in the next 12 months consider visiting Spain (49%).

Italy (39%), Greece (38%) and France (33%), Portugal (29%) and the United States of America (28%) are the closest runners-up in our poll of the most popular holiday destinations for potential travellers this year.

Looking at trends over the past three months, different travellers are drawn to distinct locations.

Luxury travellers have their sights on the US, Adventurous travellers are keen on Italy and Canada, whilst Responsible travellers (wellness focused, culturally minded, and those concerned with their environmental impact) have been considering Scotland and other domestic trips.

Destination brands need to evaluate not only the key performance indicators of their brands but how their brand resonates amongst the modern travellers.

The value of social media and user-generated content for travel companies

Travellers are increasingly turning to online search & social media to research and plan their trips, share their travel experiences and make travel decision based on fellow travellers’ reviews. Travel brands and marketers will evaluate how best to engage and serve tuned in customers.

YouGov data shows that Brits who travelled abroad in 2021 were significantly more likely to be on social media when compared to the average British citizen (92% vs. 87%).

Travellers last year were also more likely to be using apps such as TikTok (18% vs. 15% of all British adults), Snapchat (22 vs. 19%), and Instagram (46% vs. 43%).

Travellers also showed a strong affinity for ‘user-generated content’ (UGC). More than four in five British travellers who took a trip abroad last year say they consume user-generated content (82% vs. 65% of all British adults).

What’s more, close to a quarter of this travel audience (23%) say they consume travel content that other social media users create, ranking only behind UGC genres such as reviews (25% of travellers say they consume this genre) and music (24%). Travellers are also more likely to be consuming UGC content related to beauty (16% vs. 8%) and ASMR (10% vs. 5%) when compared with the average Brit.

There’s a clear ongoing demand for tourism and coupled with consumers intending to spend more in this category we are confident about a steady travel recovery in 2022.

However, consumers themselves have changed because of the pandemic.

New research has to focus on understanding the modern, post-pandemic traveller. Brands and destinations need to adapt their marketing campaigns to fit such expectations if they want to win the hearts, minds and business of these travellers.