Travel restrictions and outright lockdowns drove many consumers to rethink their priorities over the past two years.
The spotlight was put on serious issues such as ongoing damage to the environment as well as softer challenges including the need for more flexible terms and conditions in travel bookings.
In its Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2022 report, Euromonitor profiled consumers according to various behaviors the market insight company is seeing.
While not all trends are specific to travel, the changing consumer attitudes will likely have - and are already having - an impact on the industry.
Unsurprisingly, Climate Changers is one of the trends highlighted in the report, which reveals that in 2021 more than a third of consumers, 35%, actively reduced their carbon emissions.
The report says companies need to offer products and services that are “carbon-footprint certified.”
For the travel industry, that’s not as easy as it sounds, as numerous certification schemes across different verticals track different things.
In recent months, various reports have highlighted the challenges for consumers around the lack of access to sustainable travel choices as well as cost.
For travel companies, barriers such as a lack of urgency and resources are flagged as the main issues.
But consumers want more sustainable options from travel brands, according to a Booking.com report, and they maintain they are willing to pay more for them.
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Meanwhile, there has already been much talk of digital nomads and the work-from-anywhere trend in the past year, and Euromonitor’s spotlight on the Great Life Refresh further supports that.
The trend feeds into the desire from many to achieve a better work-life balance, improve mental health and live more sustainably.
Startups and more established brands from Selina to Airbnb have targeted this digital nomad traveler group, which expanded from single travelers to couples, families and groups during the pandemic.
With many large corporations now offering employees their choice of where to work, the trend is likely to continue.
The Socialization Paradox, a further trend highlighted in the report, calls for companies to remain flexible with employees and consumers as people find their own comfort level balancing virtual and real-life interactions.
On the one hand consumers are used to online engagement, but many crave more social interaction going forward.
The trends study reveals that in 2021, 76% of global consumers took health and safety precautions when leaving home.
While the travel industry needs customers to come back, it must also cater to various comfort and anxiety levels.
Move to the metaverse
The metaverse also makes an appearance in Euromonitor’s 2022 consumer trend study.
The company talks of the Metaverse Movement and how digital ecosystems will transform how consumers connect.
Euromonitor says global sales of augmented- and virtual-reality headsets climbed 56% from 2017 to 2021.
However, the technology needs to become more accessible for the trend to go mass market.
Disney Enterprises had a patent granted recently for the development of a virtual world simulator that would create more immersive, tailored experiences for its theme park visitors.
Further trends highlighted in the report that are seeping into travel include:
Backup Planners: While this trend is related to consumers seeking alternatives when supply chain issues cause shortages, it is also evident in travel through the subscription trend. Online travel brands such as eDreams and Tripadvisor and airlines such as Lufthansa are enabling travelers to access membership products and services for an annual fee.
Digital Seniors: Older generations have become more digitally savvy during the pandemic, driving the need for virtual offerings tailored to their requirements. Many in travel have already flagged how virtual tours and activities provide older travelers with reassurance of what to expect before they depart. The report reveals that 82% of those aged 60-plus had a mobile phone in 2021, while 30% are comfortable with voice assistants for help with products and just over 20% are comfortable with facial-recognition software to personalize in-person meetings.
Financial Aficionados: Although this trend is about empowering consumers to better manage their finances, it also drives expectations around payment options and mechanisms as well as fintech products. The buy-now-pay-later trend is already evident in the travel industry, with companies such as Uplift and Fly Now Pay Later attracting attention and investment dollars. Meanwhile companies such as TripActions and Hopper are removing some of the friction in travel booking with new products and services.