Embracing The World Around Us: Travel Trends Report 2023, Part 2

In this second in a series of articles, I talk to travel experts about how we will travel next year and beyond. Insider experts, some of the industry’s leading companies and prestigious hotel brands reveal their insights as to the growing travel trends on the horizon and what travellers want from exploring the world.

Last week, I spoke about the rising trend of looking for a feeling of familiarity when travelling, with people increasingly repeat-booking places they know and love, and, on the contrary, I also covered a renewed thirst to follow a path less travelled.

Today, I look at the rising movement towards nostalgic travel, as well as the return to the leaning on expert-led advice.

3. NOSTALGIC TRAVEL

When times get tough, we look for escapism and there’s no better route to blurring harsh realities than trying to recapture those types of holidays which are rooted in the feel-good factor. Looking for trips which tap into simpler times – whether it is a seaside jaunt or a railway ride – is on the rise, says booking.com, in its trends forecast for 2023.

“We found that 88% of travellers want nostalgic getaways in 2023 – things like visits to retro film locations, or bus travel to evoke school trips. While almost a quarter (23%) want to disappear into the romanticism of a pre-digital era – even Millennials and Gen Z traveller who never lived it,” says booking.com’s report.

“Of course, Millennials are now becoming parents themselves, and they’ll be the first to book emerging era-themed accommodations that will transport them back to a time they hold close to their hearts. This means destinations previously popular in the 80s and 90s are likely to make a comeback – such as Budva in Montenegro and Bolzano in Italy, which both feature on our list of 2023 trending destinations. Many hope to take family along too, with 54% planning for multi-generational ‘family reunion’ trips.”

Specialist holiday home company, Perfect Stays, which has properties in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, agrees, and says that a quest for memory-led food trips are on the rise, tapping into the same impetus for a feeling of comfort and nostalgia.

Rebecca Jackson, head of brand at Perfect Stays, says: “In the post-pandemic months, food was one of the central motives for travel. Holidaymakers threw themselves into cooking classes, explored local vineyards and craved flavours from around the word. Looking towards 2023, private in-house dining is still our most requested concierge experience. And we’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of people booking private chefs during their stay for the second year running. However, food trends are becoming much more relaxed, with a focus on comfort food sourced from local, small-scale producers. Fiona Were from Chef Fiona NZ, who we work with through our concierge service, has seen a growing demand for traditional flavours.”

Chef Fiona Were adds: “Next year, I think there’ll be a significant shift to the old-fashioned classics that are comfortingly familiar. Foods that remind us of our childhood, dishes with a retro vibe or more traditional roots. Think: well-executed prawn cocktails, beef wellingtons, sticky toffee puddings, profiteroles… Perhaps because they are reassuringly familiar when other factors in life can make us feel out of control.”

Meanwhile, Booking.com’s report for 2023 also says: “Amid global instability and the desire for escapism, people intend to carve out travel experiences that harken back to simpler times, with nostalgic getaways that provide the thrill of reliving the glory days top of the wish-list in 2023.”

Destinations that could tap into this quest could include famous destinations which you might have visited as part of a family holiday, for instance, ­such as the iconic city of Venice. In fact, UK guests make up 8% of Venice’s visitors, behind US and domestic Italian travel. Baglioni Hotel Luna Venice is the oldest hotel in the floating city, dating back to the 12th century and reportedly housed the Knights Templar in 1118, with original frescoes still adorning the hotel’s ballroom ceilings today.

Tuscany is another British family favourite and Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco provides the ideal backdrop for adventure and exploration, offering a private stay within one of its restored farmhouse villas.

With its rolling green hills, mediaeval villages perched on hilltops, and stunning landscape, the Val d’Orcia area, where the hotel is located, is the location of choice for many film directors. The Rosewood resort has recently launched a dedicated film tour, which sees guests discovering famous movie locations, with an expert guide, in and around local towns, including Montalcino, Pienza, and San Quirico d’Orcia. Iconic films shot here include The Gladiator, Liam Neeson’s Made in Italy and Romeo and Juliet.

Eric Dande, CEO of Beaumier Hotels, a luxury hotel brand with properties in the French Alps, the French Riviera and Provence, reveals that it is the mountain landscape and ski holidays which are likely to offer that sense of recreating special memories.

“For me, like so many, the mountains are filled with memories – they bring family and friends together to share the nature, beauty and excitement. It makes sense that after the past few years of disrupted travel, people are eager to return to the exact slopes they learnt to ski on growing up and recreate these memories with their own children. It’s a trend we’ve noticed at Le Fitz Roy – our veritable skier’s paradise, which sits directly on the piste at the heart of Val Thorens. A magnet for mountain-goers, the ski-in ski-out hotel is a meeting place for families and groups of friends looking to make up for lost time, and enjoy sophistication in a friendly atmosphere.”

Classic hotels such as Crillon le Brave, part of the family-run Maisons Pariente, are often discovered by the younger generation, because they would have visited with older relatives. This not only associates these heritage hotels with loving memories, but also instills a sense of loyalty among a certain tier of travellers, who will return to continue that family tradition.

“In a time of uncertainty and change, travellers are going back to familiar favourites and visiting old grand dames such as Hotel Crillon Le Brave,” agrees Kimberley Cohen, co-founder of Maisons Pariente. “We’re seeing a rise in bookings from those who have visited previously, as guests seek comfort in familiarity.”

4. EXPERTLY REVEALED

From booking a complex itinerary to suggesting a new way to adventure, there’s nothing quite like an expert tour operator to give the right advice, especially when parting with your hard-earned cash. Not only will they be able to source up-to-the-minute experiences and book new hotels, but for the far-flung explorers among us, peace of mind comes from knowing an expert is behind any trip.

Founded by Jeffrey Kent in 1962, Abercrombie & Kent is renowned for its tailor-made holidays and is one of the most trusted names in travel. From the smallest details to ensuring that every trip is inspirational and full of wonder, the award-winning company also taps into local expert guides, to make sure a destination comes truly to life for a visitor.

In The Colours of Japan tour, you can discover the incredible breadth of culture and history, as the country opens up to tourism again. From the contemporary flair of Tokyo to the charms of traditional Kyoto, experts on the ground will guide you to see historic temples, overnighting at a sought-after ryokan and sampling the country’s culinary delights.

Meanwhile, A&K’s Antarctica Discovery: Beyond the Antarctic Circle sees you embarking on a luxury expedition cruise of a lifetime, aboard Le Lyrial. You can witness the beauty of Antarctica’s towering icebergs, blue glaciers and spectacular wildlife up close and venture beyond the Antarctic Circle to the historic, rarely explored treasures of the Southern Ocean. A full programme of lectures from Polar experts and marine biologists offers in-depth insights into the ‘White Continent’ throughout the voyage.

With a portfolio of beautifully-curated properties throughout Tuscany, Simon Ball, owner of Tuscany Now & More, reveals that it is because of the company’s trusted expertise, and knowledge of a specific area – ie. Tuscany – which sees travel bookings continue to rise for next year:

“Our bookings for next year are already strong and we are witnessing a growing interest in three-generational villas where whole families can come together and reunite,” Simon says. “Our guest demographic is also changing slightly, with more European and American travellers booking big family reunion holidays and we are predicting this will continue to rise. People are looking for a unique experiences, and ways to treat themselves so we are preparing for this new mindset with an increased portfolio of high-end properties and new, authentic experiences to offer our guests.”

Meanwhile, Original Travel reports that 62% of its 2022 bookings are from new clients, up from 40% on the same period pre-pandemic. Anecdotally, many of these new clients are not just new to Original Travel, but new to tour operators entirely, corroborated by trade body ABTA, which also recently reported that 54% of families were choosing to book through a travel professional – up from 36% in 2019.

Original Travel attributes the increase to travellers seeking the safety net of a tour operator after an uncertain time – and splurging on bigger, more adventurous trips with many elements to plan. In response to the trend, the tour operator is launching a 2023 campaign to highlight how it goes above and beyond for clients, from its network of Concierges – local, on-the-ground contacts who facilitate any last-minute changes – to its airport services, that mean fast-track through check-in and security and lounge access for all clients, plus ways that the tour operator has responded to emergencies from lost passports to missed flights.

Backing this up is a recent Virtuoso survey, which saw 76% of travellers having accepted that we’re living in a ‘new normal’, thus explaining the growing demand for – and increased value of an expert advisor who can save travellers time and energy. Even Millennials and Gen Zers are turning to travel advisors, says Virtuoso, a leading global travel agency network which specialises in luxury and experiential travel

Between navigating airport travel and handling trip logistics, many travellers are opting to work with a dedicated travel advisor. “One of the simplest definitions of luxury goes like this: ‘Of course I can do it myself. I don’t want to’,” said Matthew D. Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso. “Travellers want to find someone who really knows what they’re doing, has great connections, saves time and has their back.”

One of the world’s largest online travel companies, and one of the largest e-commerce businesses in Europe, eDreams ODIGEO, also reports that its expertise has never been more in demand. The company serves some 17 million customers per year across 44 markets, under its four leading online travel agency brands – eDreams, GO Voyages, Opodo and Travellink, as well as the metasearch engine Liligo.

It has recently released its ‘Year in Travel’ report, with Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO, commenting: The data speaks for itself, consumers are embracing the opportunity to travel whenever they can. Our bookings data shows short breaks are currently the most prominent, revealing that consumers are looking to squeeze in holidays wherever possible, with almost a third of trips lasting for just three-four days. This trend could also be representative of more flexible work patterns, enabling travellers to bring their laptops with them and work abroad while enjoying a long weekend in a new, exciting environment.”

She continues: “Our findings also reveal that travellers have been spontaneous with their bookings, with nearly half (45%) taking place just 15 days before departure, or less. This underpins consumers’ desire to seize the day after being restricted on their travel plans for so long. People are looking to put the pandemic in their rear-view mirror, and we expect the travel resurgence to continue in 2023.”

Finally, new, ultra-luxe travel company The Luminaire was founded on the concept of sharing the knowledge of travel specialists and cultural connoisseurs. The brand taps into a guild of expert minds to create exceptional travel experiences that cultivate a deeper understanding of the world.

The brand predicts that there will be a renewed thirst in 2023 for highly-personalised travel experiences, led by experts, which offer the prospect of personal growth. In a study conducted by The Luminaire surveying travellers across the world, with an estimated combined net worth of $4.4billion, 93% of respondents mentioned exploring and learning about new cultures as the primary driver to travel. Respondents also revealed that ‘enriching cultural experiences’ were their top reason for selecting a hotel.

As a result, The Luminaire has partnered with leading Magnum photographers to offer visionary experiences for photography enthusiasts, whether they be amateur or accomplished. Journeys include the Northern Norway itinerary, with expert renowned Magnum Photos photojournalist Jonas Bendiksen and A Photographic Sojourn in Massachusetts with photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb.

The Luminaire’s co-founder and CEO, Adam Sebba, who has had a 20-year career as a chief executive in luxury travel and fashion, says: “We’ve built The Luminaire for a new archetype of traveller. We know the next generation has a strong passion for knowledge, expects and values deep personalisation, and has a wide and eclectic range of interests. Right now, there is no one offering substantive and accessible travel experiences to cater to that need.”

He continues: “At The Luminaire, we’re reinventing cultural and educational travel for a new generation. We’ve seen a wide-ranging democratisation of learning from experts, drawn from online platforms like Ted and Masterclass, and this is now driving consumer demand in IRL experiences. Our journeys are designed in collaboration with some remarkable people – artists, naturalists, adventurers, historians, archaeologists – people who have a lifetime of experience in their field, with captivating stories to tell.”

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