We are pretty much in the last lap of 2022 and heading for the finish line. Like every great athlete, I don’t like to look back but keep my head down and ensure we make the very best of the race we have run this year by having a winning attitude going into 2023. Certainly, we will still be facing many of the challenges I have spoken about in the last few months, like fuel price hikes, sustainability issues and Human Resources shortages, but I really do believe that with the kind of huge effort that I see being made all around me to find solutions and solid bricks on which to rebuild, that we can make the new year one that really does take us in leaps and bounds back to full recovery.
So what are some of the predicted trends for 2023? I have read many journals on this and a pretty comprehensive and accurate one is the research done by ABTA the trade association for UK travel agents, tour operators and the wider travel industry. The stats are UK based but pretty much reflect current global tendencies. It talks about trends that have been spawned out of a vastly changing attitude amongst travellers, leaning towards being more invested in their travel arrangements and opting for different types of experiences – and of course, the huge influence that tightening budgets on a global level will make to how we approach travel. Breaking it down, here are a few key points…
The financial aspect
Rising living costs will result in people searching for the best value that their money can buy. Leisure and business travellers will try to make their holidays count more, by rather opting for one holiday with extended days and destinations tagged onto it – and of course combining business and leisure travel (or Bleisure travel) too. Early bird booking will be favoured too with people realising that advanced booking is a huge saving and as the ABTA report says, “such is the commitment and strong desire to get away that people are getting in early and locking their holiday in for next year, with 29% of people saying they have already booked a package holiday abroad for the next 12 months”. This bodes very well for the security of the Airlines and the travel industry and will make it easier to recruit a new workforce!
On an aspirational level
Sustainability will be more of a key aspect for both leisure and business travel as more effort is put into choosing more eco-friendly choices. This may minimise local air travel as people choose forms of transport with less carbon footprint, like cycling and public transport. People will be more conscientious about travel arrangements too and, thankfully, will know that the assistance of Travel Professionals is invaluable in this regard. As the report says, “For many people, this will be about putting their trust in an expert to do the job for them, with people 36% more likely to book with a travel professional now than before the pandemic”. The report also tells us that 93% of people say being on holiday improves their well-being and mental health with two-thirds (65%) putting this down to the chance to escape from the stresses of life. Therefore quieter, more distant destinations will be a preferred choice which bodes well for our Wildlife tourism industry!
From a business point of view
Travel for business purposes will always be a vital part of trading on a global level and so business travel, I believe, will continue to rise and, as I have mentioned before, there seems to be no less uptake on the more expensive business and first-class travel either. The challenges facing the business community are to strive for staff well-being and utilise great travel experiences as an incentive to attain and retain key people. Astute companies will be encouraging staff to add a leisure break onto a business trip, making the aforementioned bleisure travel more popular than ever and they will allow more working from home too, as their staff have adjusted their lives to this.
It’s still about that glass-half-full attitude!
No matter what predictions are being made around the likely trends and outcomes for 2023, to be winners we just need to keep our eyes fixed on the prize – to be a fully recovered travel and tourism industry as vibrant and profitable as we were before 2019 – and although I don’t doubt for a minute that it will not be an easy task, I do believe it that with the attitude that 2023 will be much more than just more of the same – we can achieve it!
For those of you embarking on a journey this festive season – do travel safely and Bon voyage!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER