Economic Uncertainty be Damned, Revenge Travel is Unstoppable!Reading Time: 5 minutes
As some experts speculate that consumer savings will dwindle and there will be less travel in 2023, our early market indicators show a different story. Currently, the revenge travel trend is holding strong, and exponential levels of demand and direct bookings seem likely to continue growing in 2023. Keep reading this article to find out why we expect travel to continue with a vengeance in 2023.
Early 2023 Travel Demand Forecasts Under the Microscope, and the Numbers are Staggering!
Despite the initial travel disruptions triggered by the omicron variant, 2022 turned out to be a record-breaking year in terms of travel demand. According to data released by the International Air Travel Association (IATA) in November 2022, passenger traffic reached 74% of 2019 levels. China reopened outbound travel in January 2023, so this could also bolster the revenge travel trend.
Our early market indicators show that pent-up travel demand is growing in 2023. According to data generated from our portfolio of hotels, bookings in March 2023 were 32% above those over the same period in 2022. Meanwhile, bookings in April 2023 already represent 79% of those over the same period in 2022.
Are Hoteliers also Expecting Revenge Travel in 2023?
Hoteliers we surveyed for the March 2023 edition of The Hotelier PULSE Report also expect international leisure travel demand to continue, with 62% of respondents expecting this segment to significantly contribute to their business performance in the coming 12 months.
Although business travel may not recover to what it was pre-pandemic, it is being reinvented to meet new demands. Following years of lockdowns and remote working, group travel is on the rise to drive collaboration, networking, and learning opportunities. Businesses are also prioritising getting their teams back together for team-building and other social events that nurture company culture and keep it alive.
Thus, this trend is transforming the once formal face of business travel to a more laidback one. The remainder of business travel is bleisure, with an increase of people traveling for work but bringing with them spouses and family.
According to the latest market data generated from our portfolio of hotels in March 2023, group enquiries currently represent 90% of 2019 levels. The key difference with this year is that hotels now have much shorter lead times (an average of 3 months) and smaller groups (47 rooms currently vs 129 rooms in 2019). The last-minute enquiries indicate that budgets are now more flexible and consumers are making buying decisions much faster. This poses a challenge for hotels running high occupancies, which makes them unable to accommodate all the requests they receive. GDS bookings are also recovering, but at a slower pace. In 2023 year-to-date, GDS bookings are 50% above 2022 levels.
How Hotels can Adapt to Market Conditions in 2023
Although revenge travel is showing no signs of slowing down and the future is looking bright at the moment, we must also acknowledge that the market can change at any time. Therefore, it is crucial that hotels stay on top of market developments as they unfold. But as it stands currently, we recommend that hotels follow these top tips:
Offer better value for Money on your Direct Channel
Despite occupancy remaining below pre-pandemic levels, revenue generated in 2022 was substantially higher due to increased ADR. It’s important to note, however, that the hotels who truly benefited from this shift in pricing also offered a better value proposition to guests who booked direct. In 2023, it is critical that hotels prioritize offering better value for money on their direct channels.
Numerous studies show that consumers are willing to pay more for better value. So make sure you clearly communicate the perks you can offer to guests that book via your direct channels – whether it’s a restaurant or spa discount or a welcome drink on arrival. Highlight your special offers across all areas of your hotel website: Home page scroll, special offers teasers, and descriptions, and booking engine loading area.
Meet Revenge Travel Demands by investing in Automation for Operations and Payments
In 2023, technology will be an important solution to mitigate the impact of staff shortages and rising personnel costs. Automation enables hotels to do more with less human resources, which will be crucial to meet this year’s changing demands with a smaller workforce.
Not only should hotels invest in automation to mitigate operational pressure, but also in payments. In terms of payments currently, user experience needs improvement. Hotels need to make it easier for guests to book and pay, so they are more likely to complete their reservation and avoid website abandonment. This is also where smart technology can help hotels integrate different ways of paying so that they can process transactions more quickly, securely, and automatically.
We expect there will be a huge transformation across the payments landscape over the next two years, including more widespread use of new payment methods such as crypto, increased insurance prevalence, and a rise in e-commerce payment models requiring a 100% deposit. Hotels need to start thinking about how they will adapt to these trends with the help of technology and automation.
It’s important to note that hoteliers need to be involved in the technology they’ve invested in, ensuring they know how it works so that they can really be autonomous and own their business operations. It’s not enough to just rely on the supplier to work the systems for you. If something changes, then you, as a hotelier, need to have the knowledge and control to adapt accordingly.
Ensure your Hotel is visible on Google and Social Media
Research by Web in Travel shows that 81% of travelers turn to Google as their primary source for travel inspiration. Google is also a much more cost-effective avenue for hotels to increase visibility and compete in terms of rates and inventory.
When people search for hotels on Google, the first thing they will see is the property’s Google my Business listing. So, in order for hotels to benefit from this visibility, they really need to ensure their Google My Business profiles are optimized and stand out to guests. Hotels should be listed on Google Hotel Free Booking Links so that their rates and inventory is clearly displayed and comparable against OTAs and other intermediaries. Keeping information up-to-date, collecting reviews, and publishing lot’s of photos/video content is also critical to increase booking conversions on Google.
Hotels also need to focus on their social networks, and link to their hotel booking engine. Consumers are now encouraged to share their travel experiences, and this has transformed the way we make travel decisions. People build their trust in a hotel, airline, or travel agency based on the reviews of others.
In an ever-changing World, we must remain Optimistic and Agile
Although we’re seeing excellent market indicators currently, that doesn’t mean that there will be no ups and downs along the way in 2023. Hotels need to be agile to respond to ever-changing travel demands and trends as they unfold.
The continued need for agility, speed in adapting, and efficient reacting, underscores the importance of hoteliers continuing to stay informed and up to date; collaborating in sharing information, and thus ensuring an effective capture of demand. Therefore, I strongly encourage all Hoteliers reading this article to participate and contribute to our ongoing Hotelier PULSE research.