chools are winding down, the weather is getting nicer, and the nights are getting longer. It can only mean one thing: Summer travel season is right around the corner. Traveler priorities have shifted a lot over the past few years, so it’s important to stay on top of what’s trending as your customers hit the road.
What’s hot this summer? The need for slow, meaningful exploration, unique experiences and a feeling of health, wellness and safety.
Summer travel is returning to pre-pandemic popularity levels. According to the U.S. Travel Association, travelers spent $93 billion in February – that’s 5 percent higher than 2019 levels and 9 percent higher than spending in 2022. In addition, more than half of all travelers (55 percent) said they were planning to prioritize leisure travel spending (even over clothing, home improvements or eating out.)
If you own or manage a destination, this is exactly what you want to hear. And even better, another recent report revealed that luxury travel is on the minds of many travelers who want to make up for a few lost years: 80 percent of survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are willing to pay to upgrade their experience. But travelers have seemingly endless options for how to spend their time. How can you ensure that they choose your destination? Here’s a look at the types of travel that are hot for summer.
1. Road Trips
Road trips have always been a popular way to travel, but they are now more popular than ever. With the pandemic still a concern and airline prices that are still cost-prohibitive, people are opting to hit the road. Although it may take longer to reach their destination, travelers love having more control and flexibility over their travel experience.
How to win: To welcome them (and their car), offer local maps that highlight all of the interesting locations in the area that are easily drivable.
2. Outdoor Adventure
Perhaps as a reaction to Covid concerns, outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and camping are continuing to gain popularity. Travelers are seeking out destinations that offer opportunities to connect with nature and experience adventure, including national parks, mountain ranges, and coastal destinations.
How to win: If your destination is near an outdoor hotspot, shout it out loud! Offer directions, partnership discounts, and a luxurious place for weary travelers to rest after a day of adventure.
3. Sustainable Travel
According to a recent article, 70 percent of travelers think traveling sustainably equals a better experience – especially for Gen Z, who are well aware of the impact that tourism has on the environment. They’re looking for ways to travel responsibly, which includes choosing eco-friendly accommodations, supporting local businesses, and reducing their carbon footprint.
How to win: Ask yourself, are your green initiatives at standard, or do you have room for improvement? In areas that your destination does its part to save the environment, be sure to let your guests know. And if your list is short, it’s important to understand that for the up-and-coming generation of travelers, sustainability can be a deal-breaker.
4. Digital Detox
As technology continues to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, travelers are seeking out destinations where they can disconnect and unplug. (In fact, as many as 36 percent of travelers say they would give up social media for a year if it meant they could take their dream vacation.) This trend is known as a digital detox, and it involves taking a break from technology and immersing oneself in nature or other activities. Destinations such as remote cabins, yoga retreats, and meditation centers are popular choices.
How to win: Create a social media campaign that’s focused on unwinding, unplugging, and getting back to the basics. Even if you’re located in the heart of a bustling city, it’s possible to find moments of peace.
5. Multi-Generational Travel
Multi-generational travel is becoming more popular as families look for ways to reconnect and spend quality time together. With the pandemic highlighting the importance of family and community, multi-generational travel offers an opportunity to strengthen bonds and create lasting memories.
How to win: Create sample itineraries and trip inspiration ideas that highlight all of the family-friendly activities in your area, like the one we put together for the Lakes Region Tourism Development Association. Your large groups of travelers will appreciate all the hard work that you did to bring them recommendations.
6. Wellness Travel
Wellness travel is a trend that has been growing over the past few years and is set to continue in 2023. Travelers are seeking out destinations that offer opportunities for relaxation, rejuvenation, and self-care. This includes spa retreats, yoga retreats, and meditation centers.
How to win: Invest in sponsored ads that put your destination’s wellness spa front and center, then use smart targeting to reach your ideal clients. Or, if you’re beachside, bring in a yoga instructor to hold sunrise classes on the sand.
7. Slow Travel
This up-and-coming travel trend involves ditching the hustle and bustle of a planned vacation for deep immersion in a destination. Travelers want to go out of the tourist areas, leave the marked trails and experience the local culture and way of life, and connect with the people and places around them. Sounds wonderful to us!
How to win: Create a series of videos that position your destination as an experience. Create an atmosphere that puts your traveler into the picture with a feeling of belonging and peace. (We put together a list of great examples to inspire you.)