Travel Predictions 2023: The top travel trends for the year and how you can use them

15 January 2023

It’s that time of year where marketing teams across the world grab their nearest tarot cards to predict the next 365 days. It can get pretty overwhelming. Many brands, organisations and agencies have different opinions on where the travel ship is docking next.

Where to start? You’re in luck. We’ve read over 50 reports, blogs and articles and have analysed the 8 top travel brands’ predictions for 2023. These include some of the top industry voices including ABTA, Expedia, and Hilton.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common mentions, and key statistics from each, so you know what’s set for the year ahead. Here’s our roundup...

1. Misplaced time

Misplaced time. It turns out absence does equal fondness (if only we had known this before…). The suggestion of revenge travel was a hot topic last year. Many felt that Covid had stolen their time and travel, and they were going to make up for it. 

There were still barriers thrown from all directions though. From economic and political crises to returning restrictions, people are now more ready than ever to book a getaway. 46% say travel is more of a priority for them post-pandemic than it has been before.

Long Live Travel!

Our CEO's Thoughts

Keep doing what you are doing, but better. You’ve got to demonstrate better value than competitors to be successful. People's minds and bodies are crying out for time abroad (especially after this abysmal winter); however, their pockets might not be able to keep up, so give them as compelling a reason to Travel WITH YOU as possible.

What you can do?

Keep doing what you’re doing! Making sure they have the most frictionless booking process possible will go a long way to helping them book with you. If you can appeal to that sense of time fulfilment, even better. 

2. Strip it down

Strip it down. It turns out people are looking for an escape (55%), that means (for many) phones-free, off-grid and back to basics.

For a lot (46%), this has a wellness aspect too. Respondents still often wanted tech integrated into their travel to help make it frictionless on a hotel holiday, but wanted to put the phone down and clock-out.

Quite a few (39%) were ready to learn survival skills for the impending apocalypse (and with the state of 2022, we can’t blame them). It’s about shaking off the realities of everyday life and a lot of the dreariness that can come with it. 2023 is about reconnecting with our roots, the past, and what’s essential to us as humans.

Our CEO's Thoughts

There’s definitely a place for switching off, but this also contradicts a lot of other travel trends - such as hotel customers ranking ‘free wifi’ in their top 10 requirements when searching for hotels. This post from my friend Justin at TripAdvisor highlights what people are ‘actually’ searching for, rather than predicted trends. There's a balance here. If you offer this, then yes, you're marketing should lean into it. But don't provide a ‘back to nature’ or ‘digital detox’ offering if it doesn't fit naturally for you. People will get annoyed with you for not giving them wifi!

What you can do? 

It might be unethical to ask guests to stow their phone away on arrival unless you’re a silent retreat, but there’s still plenty of options. If you’re already a back-to-basics attraction, make sure you capitalise on this in your marketing. If you’re a more luxury destination make sure there’s a health and wellness emphasis.

3. Culture, not couture

Culture, not couture. This year, travellers no longer want to be in a hotel that could be anywhere in the world. They want to support local communities, experience authentic and meaningful travel that isn’t just a place to stay.

Connecting to the local culture was important to half of the respondents in the Hilton research and mentioned in most other predictions. A trend that we predict will keep evolving and growing.

Our CEO's Thoughts

I’m completely behind this one - local people and local experiences give everybody the authentic destinations they are looking for.

What you can do? 

Partner with your local community and lift your local attractions. Have your staff give recommendations that are off-peak and away from the tourist traps. Display native artwork and artists if possible. These all work towards enhancing the immersive experience that you can provide. If you’re in transport, make sure you’re reaching, or letting others know how they can reach off-piste attractions with you. 

4. Bang for your buck-et list

Bang for your buck-et list. Everyone this year wants to ensure they’re getting their money’s worth, at both ends of the spectrum too, necessities or luxury. This can mean booking early, off-peak, or travelling in a different way, but it’s all about maximising value.

There’s debate around whether all-inclusive, self-catering or half board is better value. Since people want their travel to mean something post-pandemic, we’re betting half-board. There’s no better way to get a taste for the local culture, but we wouldn’t turn down a good value all-inclusive either.

Our CEO's Thoughts

Budget brands offering higher value options is great for growing revenue. Across our clients, we find that adding extra value items, where they can build a higher quality package, works well and delivers greater returns. On the flip side, Luxury offering basic, in travel doesn't work too well - but there is a solution and its links with the trend above. If you are offering a luxury product, but want to attract wider audiences who might not be as affluent as your typical target market, then why not look at some kind of half board, package - or all-inclusive, but with 2 nights of dining not included, at a reduced price. 

BUT the trick here is rather than leaving your customers to their own devices to figure out where they are eating, demonstrate that luxury service you are famous for, by providing them with a list of local, quality and cost-effective dining options, where they can get a flavour for the area. This is a win, win-win. 

The customer wins, with a more manageable price for their ‘luxury’ stay, the local community wins because you are sharing your guests with other tourism businesses in the vicinity, and your brand wins, by demonstrating quality service.

What you can do?

Obviously this one fully depends on the kind of provider you are right? Well, that’s mostly true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer different price points to suit more needs. For example, the best seats in the theatre sell out first. 

People that have money to spend want a premium experience, so if you’re a budget business, why not add an ultra premium experience with the price to boot? And if you’re a premium brand? Well, there’s a reason why Waitrose introduced their “essentials” range. It’s better they shop with you, than someone else right? Just be sure to give it an authentic touch! 

Check out some of our latest travel campaigns...

Take a look!

5. Pushing the boat out

Pushing the boat out. People want something different. Whether it’s a new culture, an out-of-comfort-zone experience (73%), silent retreat (40%) or UFO spotting (yes, 38% wanted that), they’re looking for more than a holiday. They’re looking for personal growth, connection and depth after too long in isolation. New and memorable experiences are vital in travel at the moment.

Our CEO's Thoughts

This is one of the easiest things that any travel brand can do. Either partner with local experiences, package this up and offer it to your customers (many good hotels are doing this already). 

Alternatively, and being mindful of stretched budgets this year, with a little time and effort, you can also simply curate a list of local experiences, or places that guests/visitors can experience at their own pace and then market this online, or as part of a ‘check-in’ email, or as a video you make for your guests that loops on a screen at your venue etc… This still ensures your customers have a different and authentic, wider experience.

What you can do? 

Whether you offer a more niche experience yourself, or partner with one nearby, having a unique angle to your brand could make a big difference this year. What do you offer that they couldn’t find anywhere else? Or at least not in your area? A great idea that’s being used in another country could be used in yours.

6. Bike, hike, rail and sail

Bike, hike, rail and sail Looking for different ways to travel is the new black. There are many reasons that we could be seeing a rise in road trips (23%) and railway revivals, like the financial, scenic or environmental benefits.

Not only this, there’s an uptick in walking, cycling, even e-biking holidays and taking to the seas. So, 2023 might be the year of the road, land or sea less travelled.

Our CEO's Thoughts

I would love for there to be a reduction in airline usage to get to more local destinations, but it's incredibly difficult for many customers to be able to mitigate the time it takes using other forms of transport. Where there is an equal time trade-off, then it's a fair fight, and social and political movements support not travelling by plane. But when it's going to take significantly more time to travel via an alternative method, you need to give customers a better reason, or more support. 

Simply put, in order for other transport modes to effectively complete with air travel, when their journey time is a lot longer, they have to show customers how they can use this additional time, in the most exciting way. 

Take DFDS Ferries, their Newcastle to Amsterdam Mini cruise, which clearly takes longer than flying to Amsterdam, but the overall experience is fantastic. The journey truly is already a part of the holiday, with fantastic sights at sea of all kinds of marine life, lovely food, and great onboard entertainment. 

This offering can compete with flights, but if your travel provider isn't offering something for you to do with the additional hours it's going to take, then why would a customer bother?

What you can do? 

If you’re in transport, this is your chance to sell yourself and lean into the things they can get with you, but not on another form of transport. If you’re a destination, highlight ways to get to you that don’t involve a plane. 

7. Values

Values. Hotels are making more inclusive and environmentally friendly efforts, and so are travellers. 90% of consumers are looking for sustainable options when travelling. From travel, to packing and consumption, it's all in a bid to be more eco-conscious. Many are becoming aware of, or actively seeking, hotels with good values from inclusivity to fair treatment of employees too.

Our CEO's Thoughts

I couldn't agree more. Unless you're authentic here, you will be accused of Greenwashing, so either way - a sustainability strategy is absolutely key for your business, in order for you to exist in 5 years' time.

What you can do?

Good business. Sorry, there’s no shortcut or quick fix here. If it's fake, people will know. The key here is if you value your employees, customers and planet, they will value you in turn. Be proud of your efforts and display them somewhere they can be found, but only if you mean it.

8. Bleisure doing business with you

Bleisure doing business with you. Mixing business with leisure (or 'Bleisure' as it’s been coined) is a real mixed bag itself. Whilst 66% of respondents wanted nothing to do with work whilst on holiday, many are happy to extend work trips for a few days to get a little extra free time out of them. Bleisure is going to be all the rage this year though, with people happy to mix the two and make the most of it.

Our CEO's Thoughts

This is an important trend, and potentially overplayed by the business travel sector. Overall, Business travel has not recovered post-pandemic, and many (including myself) don't think it ever will. More and more people are using video calls, rather than face-to-face meetings. More events are online (even though they aren't as good). 

Overall, business travel is down, and IMO will never get back to where it is. So, for business travel organisations, inspiring business travellers to stay an extra day or two, is sensible and essential really. But let's not get carried away here, I've got 3 kids and a wife at home, so I'm not going to be extending many of my international business trips, to travel around a destination on my own for 2-3 days. I don't think I'd get away with it! 

What I'm trying to point out here, is that this works best for business travellers, with no dependents at home (which can be effectively targeted via digital advertising by the way); otherwise, I think this trend is a temporary blip, that will soon even out.

What you can do?

Keep doing what you’re doing! Making sure they have the most frictionless booking process possible will go a long way to helping them book with you. If you can appeal to that sense of time fulfilment, even better. 

Bonus Round... 

With over 18 years of experience working in the travel and tourism industry, we’re seeing additional trends coming from our clients and networks for 2023 too.

2023 is the year of maximising value and minimising overwhelm.

We know what restrictions feel like a little too well at the moment, so this year is about careful carelessness. Throwing caution to a gentle breeze if you will, letting go to find ourselves.

The delayed gap year

With school leavers and graduates forced to hand their gap years to Covid, many spent that furlough time saving. It’s their time to fly the nest (potentially metaphorically), and with TikTok giving all the scenic recommendations under the sun (more literally), there’s a chance for an influx of young groups to travel to all corners of the world.

What you can do: If you’d like to attract this market you’ve got to be present where they’re spending their time. Digital channels will help you reach these audiences, but your offering will need to be worth their time, as they’ve waited for this trip, they want to make it count.

Organised travel experiences

Generic travel and planning is a lot of work, effort and with the whole world being moved online digitally, we know people are heading to trusted travel providers.

But they want more than just an organised holiday, people realise their time off now is once again limited, and they want every moment of it to count. Organised travel saves their time and effort for maximised experience where it counts. Whether it’s arts and culture tours or group cycles around Egypt, there is something for absolutely everyone, alone or not. With a full set itinerary and knowledge you’re getting a credible service.

What you can do? 

Make sure your itineraries all line up. They need to be quality to generate the quantity. Make it as easy as possible for the consumer to book. 


So, here we are again. Another start to the year. Another load of predictions. But as the past three years have shown, anything can happen. We look forward to working with the travel industry to make this year as successful as possible for people, but most importantly, our planet too.

If you need a help navigating 2023 and want a travel-experienced agency to guide you, get in touch