This morning Virtuoso held an event in Sydney that spotlighted emerging trends affecting the Australia and New Zealand travel landscapes in 2022.
To find the most compelling insights, Virtuoso surveyed its members’ clientele, gathered insights from its travel advisor and preferred partner network and tapped into its data warehouse of more than USS49.5 billion in transactions.
Top revelations include delayed celebrations as a driving motivator for travel, people increasingly eyeing international “near not far” destinations, and while the pandemic continues to impact peace of mind whilst travelling, consumers are turning to travel advisors now more than ever to help them navigate a new travel environment.
A Travel State of Mind
1 January 2022 poll by Virtuoso showed that 85 percent of travellers are in a “ready to travel” mindset.
The intent to travel is strong, with 71 percent of travellers surveyed already booked for 2022 and 86 percent saying they plan to travel internationally this year – a fact that has been supported by booking figures since January.
Virtuoso anticipates bookings will continue to trend upwards at the end of 2022 and into 2023.
Tourism Economics 2022 report also showed that globally, international leisure travel is expected to reach full recovery against 2019 sometime towards the end of 2023.
In Australia, outbound travel is projected to recover to 2019 levels by the second half of 2024. Virtuoso’s own transactional data indicates a similar recovery.
Globetrotters are Going Big and Spending Big
Virtuoso experts say 2022 and 2023 will be all about once-in-a-lifetime, Wanderlist trips.
Tapping into their advisor’s knowledge and expertise, travellers are looking to create bespoke itineraries featuring exclusive destinations and attractions.
Seventy-eight percent of AU/NZ clients surveyed by Virtuoso said they know what they want and are willing to spend big to achieve their travel dreams, and 75 percent said they intend to splurge on business and first-class seats to get them there.
The increase in high-end travel is the result of pent-up demand and expanded financial means, with some Australians’ wealth increasing considerably during the pandemic.
Comparatively, Australians’ wealth increased through 2020, second only to the Swiss.
Celebration Travel: Grab the Gang
Making up for the past two-plus years of missed milestones has become a priority for those seeking to reconnect with loved ones.
Seventy-eight percent of Virtuoso advisors have reported an uptick in celebration travel, with anniversaries and notable birthdays being the primary motivators, and 95 percent of advisors said celebration travel will continue to be a top trend through 2022.
When Virtuoso travellers were surveyed, celebration travel rated second-highest behind travel for relaxation as top travel motivators.
Where to Next?
Whilst international travel returns, with Australia opening its borders in November and New Zealand soon to follow, there has been a rise in “near not far” destinations, such as New Zealand for Australian travellers and vice versa.
Fiji, Hawaii and Japan are also popular destinations as shown by booking figures and customer sentiment from the Virtuoso clientele survey.
When it comes to Europe, Italy, the UK, Germany and France remain on travellers’ wishlists as fond favourites.
Travel Advisors Are Strategists Who Provide Peace of Mind
Peace of mind is hard to come by as the world emerges from the pandemic, but travel advisors continue to prove their value to both their clients and the overall travel industry.
Even during “normal” times, planning travel isn’t always straightforward.
With international travel rules in flux, it has never been more important to tum to an advisor to plan, book, and most importantly, ensure there is a backup plan in the event of travel disruptions.
Advisors continue to show their worth, driving demand for professional planning. In Australia and New Zealand, clientele surveyed said that the advice provided by their travel advisor is the most important component when it comes to planning the trip of a lifetime that suits their needs.
The Conscious Comeback
The pandemic is leading people to be more conscious of their impact on the world, with 81 percent of travellers saying they want to travel more responsibly in the future.
This has led to what Virtuoso calls “the conscious comeback”.
A recent Virtuoso survey found that Australian and New Zealand travellers are leading the way compared to U.S, and Canadian travellers in choosing travel providers that adopt environmentally friendly philosophies and practices or that benefit local people and economies.
This aligns with Virtuoso’s three pillars of sustainability: protecting the planet, supporting local economies and celebrating cultures.
With bookings returning and intent to travel strong, let’s call it: travel is back!
For more information, visit www.virtuoso.com
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