To understand how travel will be reimagined in 2023, Booking.com commissioned an in-depth study of over 24,000 travellers in 32 countries to predict the 7 emerging travel trends.
Despite a complex economic and geopolitical context around the world, the need to travel is still present for 72% of people. If 2022 was the year of the triumphant return of travel, 2023 will be the year of its creative reinvention according to Booking, which unveils the major tourism trends to come based on a vast study.
At a time of global upheaval when war, inflation and urgent concerns about climate change continue to radically change the world, people find themselves in a deep tug-of-war, struggling to reconcile what is important to them with their desire to travel. The travel forecast for 2023 reflects this sentiment, revealing that travellers' needs are changing dramatically.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that travel should not be taken for granted. This year's travel predictions study shows the undercurrent of paradoxical intentional behaviours that will make us all more comfortable in the face of relentless instability. It also shows that travel is a way to seek moments of happiness and escape to counterbalance the heavy realities of our information flows.
Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com
The survivalist trend in the spotlight
Camouflaged cabins, campfire cooking and compasses; going off the grid will never be as sought after as it is in 2023. 44% of travellers want to get back to basics and are looking for an off-grid holiday to escape reality, disconnect and live with the bare essentials. While the survivalist phenomenon is not so new, its current popularity reflects a growing interest among people in being able to fend for themselves in sometimes hostile conditions. This trend also reflects a certain anxiety about the times ahead.
In addition, 58% of travellers also want to use their travels in 2023 to learn survival skills, including how to find clean water for 53%, how to start a fire from scratch for 42%, how to forage for food in the wild and even how to prepare for the apocalypse for 39%.
We can also expect to see more eco-tours to cater for the needs of city dwellers who lack a connection to nature, as well as accommodation that offers advice to guests on how to be more self-sufficient. The number of wilderness survival schools is also expected to increase, where travellers will learn the essential skills to survive a cataclysmic event.
The boom in virtual travel continues
More than 40% of the world's travellers say they will turn to virtual reality next year to choose their holidays. In 2023, travel will enter the ever-evolving 3D virtual space of the metaverse in earnest. Indeed, 35% say they will embark on a multi-day travel experience in Virtual or Augmented Reality. Travellers will no longer be limited by physics and will be able to experience different travel experiences within the metaverse.
Travellers will be more adventurous in their travel choices in real life, having been able to visit them in the metaverse first via their avatars. For example, 46% of travellers are more likely to travel to destinations they would not have previously considered after experiencing them virtually. However, tour operators and other tourism professionals can rest assured that 60% think that a virtual experience is not satisfying enough to cross a destination off their wish list.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
More and more travellers want to experience and immerse themselves in a new culture for the duration of their stay. Half of the world's travellers want to experience a complete culture shock in 2023, whether it's travelling to a place with completely different cultural experiences and languages or exploring lesser-known cities and getting off the beaten track.
In 2023, travellers will be looking for unique holidays that shock, surprise and delight. With 73% of people looking forward to trips 'outside their comfort zone' that push them to their limits, there will be an influx of niche experiences.
For example, 47% are looking for the most exotic food in the world, such as the hottest chilli, while 38% want to use their holiday to go on an alien exploration tour with UFOs or aliens. In addition, 28% want to buy a single ticket in 2023 and follow their instincts wherever they lead.
In search of lost time
Against a backdrop of global instability and a desire to get away from it all, people intend to have travel experiences that recall simpler times. Nostalgic getaways that provide the thrill of reliving the glory days top the wish list in 2023 for 88% of respondents.
There is a desire, even among younger generations, to disappear into the romance of a pre-digital age, with 23% of travellers chasing experiences that evoke emotional memories of a bygone era, such as visiting sites or attractions featured in iconic retro films.
With millennials now parents of young children, there will be an increase in destinations once popular in the 80s and 90s, such as Budva in Montenegro, a glamorous alternative to St Tropez for 80s celebrities, or Bolzano in Italy, popular for its retro Christmas markets. These young people will be the first to book themed accommodation that will transport them back to an era that is close to their hearts, and 54% of them will probably do so with their family by their side.
A healthy mind in a healthy body
In 2023, travel is expected to put mind and body wellness at the forefront with a fully immersive and sometimes unconventional approach. To refocus the mind, meditation and mindfulness trips are popular with 44% of global travellers while 40% seek peace in a silent retreat. Also, 42% want to take a health break focusing on mental health, transformative health or life milestones like menopause or pregnancy.
For those seeking more advanced spiritual experiences, alternative substances such as herbal psychedelics will become a more common offering, with 36% wanting to try this type of experiential wellness experience as part of their travels in 2023.
Bleisure more trendy than ever
While business travel will be the order of the day in 2023, it will have a much larger leisure component. Employees are looking for more opportunities to build team camaraderie, reflecting a growing demand to combine business travel with recreational time. Indeed, 44% of the global workforce looks forward to their employer planning a 'real life' business trip to bring people together.
In response, 2023 will see an increase in corporate travel where the focus will be on relationship building and corporate leisure rather than work. Employers will gamify the retreat experience and immerse staff in a world where teamwork is the only option. Trips will then be themed, for example, with a 'survivor' themed stay in luxury cabins or country farms, with communal cooking and outdoor adventure activities.
Furthermore, 59% of workers worldwide believe that exploring new places will make them more productive at work. This trend benefits both employees and companies.
Travelling at the best price without depriving yourself
Against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, travellers in 2023 will continue to prioritise travel, but they will be more mindful of how to make the most of their travel budget and what takes priority. While 50% of travellers say that investing in a holiday remains a top priority for them, 68% continue to prioritise travel while seeking to get more value for money.
In 2023, developing financially savvy itineraries will be paramount. Travellers will plan their budgets more tightly by taking advantage of offers, tips and timely travel for 63% and by focusing on value for money through discounts and loyalty schemes for 60%.
For example, 53% will look to save money by considering off-season destinations or longer itineraries, while 61% will plan their trip further in advance in the hope of getting a better deal. More than half think that the best use of their budget is to opt for one or two longer holidays rather than several short breaks.
In this context, many travellers are also surprisingly willing to increase their spending, or even splurge, on the elements of their trip that matter most to them. Finally, 49% admit that they plan to be more indulgent in their spending habits while on holiday to make up for the lack of travel over the past two years, while 43% plan to spend lavishly to ensure that they maximise their trip and make every experience worthwhile.