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Travel trends for 2023: From the return of long haul to flexible bookings


Travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors in recent years with the Covid-19 pandemic grounding planes and prompting countries to close their borders. As destinations reopened, our appetite for overseas travel retuned… fast! Twice as many Britons holidayed abroad this year than in 2021, representing a 70% increase on 2019 numbers.

However, with the cost-of-living crisis starting to bite, one in three holidaymakers will cut back on holiday spending next year, seeking all-inclusive and cheaper package deals due to the crisis, travel industry research suggests.

For brands that want to tap into the recovery in demand for travel in 2023, it’s important to be across the trends. That’s right, we’re officially in trend season! So, without further ado, let’s take an optimistic look at what will define travel next year:

Long-haul travel returns

Some of the countries in Asia have taken a decidedly more cautious approach to coming out of the pandemic than we have here in Europe. So much so that some borders are only just reopening for the first time in almost three years.

Taiwan, Japan and South Korea have flung their doors open to tourists again in the past few months, leaving only China as the last remaining no-go zone, and there appears to be no end in sight to the restrictions, despite mounting public frustration.

Not only can we expect to see renewed interest in long-haul travel, we could even begin to see some innovation take flight.

Qantas – sensing passenger appetite for arriving sooner rather than later – has already renewed its commitment to "Project Sunrise", an ambitious effort to fly nonstop from its Sydney hub to prized markets like London, New York and Paris. Other airlines are sure to follow suit, sharpening the appeal of long-haul travel.


Matching purpose with price

As we discussed in our summer travel blog, people are looking at travel through a new gaze. The traveller mindset is changing, and sustainable travel has emerged as a growing trend as travellers hope to lessen the environmental impact of tourism.

The pandemic seems to have accelerated this trend, with 90% of people now looking for sustainable options when travelling, as per a survey by Expedia Group.

There’s an argument – and a decent one at that – which says that those travellers who decide to transform their travel habits will benefit the sector’s recovery and, at the same time, make a positive contribution to local individuals, as well as to their natural environment and cultural heritage.

However, the rising cost of living poses a significant threat to the sustainable tourism market. Some consumers will be forced to cut back on holidays with price remaining at the forefront of consumers’ decision-making when booking trips, instead of environmental concerns.

So, while the sustainable travel trend is expected to extend into 2023 and beyond, travel brands will have to find a way to match purpose with price.

Last-minute bookings to compete on price

The sticking point to enabling affordable sustainable travel is that the global cost of living crisis isn’t only affecting consumers but organisations, too. As operating costs rise, price increases will happen, and for consumers who are already seeing costs rising at home, holidays may be a lesser priority.

That said, it has been suggested that off-peak winter holidays can actually save you money, compared to heating your home. TravelTime World recently launched a marketing campaign called ‘The Heat Is On’ highlighting the low cost per day of long-stay holidays, suggesting it’s on a par with energy prices.

Securing a cost-effective holiday will likely be a matter of timing, however, which could reignite the trend of last-minute holidays.

Backing this up is new research from OnePoll which reveals that 45% of UK travellers say they don't necessarily have a specific destination in mind for their trip when they start their planning and 50% of them are totally flexible when it comes to where and when they travel.

Be it domestic or foreign travel, holidaymakers are happy to keep an open mind if it means they can head off somewhere within budget.

The value of branded content

But people still want some assurances that they’re not going to regret their decision, particularly around the travel provider, with consumers more wary of being scammed than ever before.

Nearly three quarters (71%) of consumers feel it is important to recognise a brand before purchase, and this figure only increases on high value purchases such as a holiday.

Long-form branded content ticks a lot of boxes in this respect. Not only does it help you reach consumers in a trusted environment that is at their fingertips, you’re afforded the space to turn readers onto new destinations and help them truly understand their travel options.