Six travel trends you should be aware of

Six travel trends you should be aware of

It’s that time of year when the media is full of lists of trends in cooking, cars, home décor – and of course, best of all, travel.

Looking at the list and chatting with industry colleagues including the luxury travel trade show ILTM Cannes, I’m seeing definite patterns – some that you, as independent travel advisors, will want to pay attention to. Here’s what I’m hearing:

1) LONG booking windows

We have returned, slightly, to the ways of pre-pandemic travel. Suppliers and my Direct Travel colleagues tell me that bookings for late 2023 and well into 2024 are becoming the norm again. While there will still be last-minute bookings, planning ahead is coming back, so make sure your clients are aware of that.

2) Flexibility

We all know too well that travel arrangements turned inside out over the past couple of years – this past Christmas being no exception, thanks to Mother Nature. Clients want more flexibility and reassurance about what will be offered if the supplier has to change the arrangements. What if the client has to postpone or cancel? Here’s a great opportunity for you to ensure they have adequate insurance coverage (at last clients are welcoming the insurance discussion.)

3) Luxury travel

Not just pent-up demand (and piles of unspent dollars), clients are setting a higher bar for new trips. Advisors here at Direct Travel are more often booking itineraries over six-figures in cost. The 3-star client is now looking at 4-star or higher. Clients are also looking at in-trip travel experiences (private transfers, off-the-beaten path/unique excursions, and dining) they might not have opted for before. Don’t be shy about offering more luxury and remember to never shop with your own personal budget in mind. 

4) Family travel

Growing in popularity even pre-2020, this niche has grown exponentially, especially multi-gen trips. Do the research to ensure you have the facts on elements such as supplies for baby (cribs, high chairs, diapers, maybe even a nanny-for-hire) and what there is to do for those challenging customers: the teens. Happy teens, happy family.

5) Wellness travel

This is definitely a niche that’s growing by leaps and bounds. The availability of a spa, yoga and/or meditation classes, hiking/walking, and healthy dining are all more important. Don’t forget to ask about your client’s interest in wellness during your discovery call.

6) Vacations with a ‘learning’ element

Remember the beginning of the pandemic when it seemed everyone was perfecting their sourdough bread? Well, with confinement came an interest in cooking and more. Keep an eye out for itineraries with a learning element, be it a cooking class, olive oil tasting session, street food or farmers’ market tour, or a walking tour focusing on local history and architecture. Many clients today are looking beyond the lie-on-the-beach vacation (‘fly-and-flop’ I’ve heard them called!) and want more experiences when they travel.

Do you have any additional ideas you want to share? Let me know! You can find me at jgoldman@dt.com.

Joelle Goldman is the Vice President of Host Services & Luxury Hotel Programs for Direct Travel in North America, which includes the Canada’s Vision Travel. She can be reached at jgoldman@dt.com.