2023 Travel Trends and Tips for Tourism Marketers

min read
2023 Travel Trends and Tips for Tourism Marketers

2022 has been a turbulent year for consumers, with inflation on consumer goods reaching 9.1%. Travelers have been hit particularly hard, with airline ticket prices increasing by 25%

However, despite the surge in prices, travelers aren’t getting sticker shock. After being cooped up by the pandemic, everyone is itching to get out of the house — even if that means paying more. That’s why, in 2022, travel has reached 81% of pre-pandemic levels. By 2023, it will have nearly made a full recovery, reaching 96%. 

With travelers eager to hit the road, tourism and hospitality companies are once again opening the purse strings of their marketing budgets. Learn the top travel trends for 2023 and the marketing strategies you need to capitalize on them.

People Are Spending More on Travel

Travel budget coffers are bursting at the seams after two years at home, and people are prepared to open the vaults and empty them with shovels. Expedia has obviously been scraping TikTok for the latest cool-kid slang and said in its 2022 Travel Trends Report that vacationers are ready to GOAT—or take the Greatest of All Trips. While this is getting a little into cringy “dad trying to sound hip” territory, it appears to be true, as 68% of respondents said they’re prepared to “go big” on their next trip. The average reported leisure travel budget is almost $4,000 for 2022, according to Destination Analysts research. 

Enthusiastic vacationers will also be traveling more and staying at their destinations longer in 2022. According to Gartner, more than 50% of knowledge workers are predicted to be working remotely by the end of 2021, which can easily translate to working from the beach while totally not drinking margaritas at noon. And, really, who’s in a rush to go home at this point? 

The Customer Experience Is More Important Than Ever

Flight delays and cancellations are mounting just as travelers are getting back into the skies. This has created a lot of headaches for consumers and, therefore, they’re being a lot more careful about who they book with. Despite inflation, our research found that 63% of people say they’re willing to pay more to get better customer service. 

If you want to earn brand loyalty and increase your bookings, you need to deliver experiences that delight your customers. If you fail to live up to their expectations, it can prove costly — 76% of consumers will stop doing business with you after just one bad experience.

Many Travelers Will Stay Closer to Home 

While everyone is ready to GOAT, they are more likely to express their vacation grandiosity domestically. Nearly 60% of prospective American travelers say they’ll stay stateside in the coming year, and warm weather destinations like Orlando and Maui top the list. Though, sadly, you can’t get to the sandy beaches of Hawaii by car, 58% plan on continuing to travel by car, even after the pandemic ends.

If you’ve been on a plane lately, it’s easy to understand why local travel is trending. If you’re a travel marketer, this means you need to pay more attention to local search and target audiences within a few hundred miles of your destination. 

Eco-Travel and the Outdoors are In

I’m a long-time camper and it’s pretty much the only traveling I did in 2020-21, so I can tell you firsthand that everyone and their mom is now way into camping. Once desolate campsites are now packed with people, RVs, shiny new gear, and screaming children who want nothing to do with camping. You can get away and (kind of) not be near other people, so it makes sense. 

While I have mixed feelings about this trend, the 500% increase in campsite bookings in 2021 has been great for supporting the campsites and the outdoor industry. Personally, I hope this will mellow out with people going back to their regular vacation schedule, but I’m not counting on it and neither should outdoor travel marketers.

Eco-travel, or sustainable tourism, was a big trend in 2022 and will likely carry over into 2023. Sustainable tourism takes into account the current and future economic, social, and environmental impact of travel. Over 80% of travelers said that they want to stay in sustainable accommodations in 2022. This is great news for the environment, and notable for marketers that should be touting sustainability efforts in the coming year.

Spontaneous Travelers will Seek More Last-Minute Deals 

When everything is up in the air, it’s hard to make concrete plans. Between COVID variants and associated travel restrictions, changing work and school schedules, and general indecisiveness, it’s easier to bug out when the opportunity arises. Expedia’s research shows that a quarter of respondents are willing to be more spontaneous—and that means more of them will be looking for last-minute deals.

Marketers would be wise to bid on appropriate keywords to capture last-minute travelers and make sure that they’re tracking phone calls driven by their campaigns so they can determine which bids are most effective at driving bookings. More on that below!

Travel and Leisure Marketers Will Increase Ad Spend

As the travel industry takes flight into growth mode, travel ad spending is expected to climb 36% in 2022 after kicking up 24% in 2021. Projections show that ad spend will exceed 2019 levels by 2023.

As excitement and pent up demand for travel explodes next year, marketers must be prepared to use this increased budget to build new relationships with customers who have been stuck at home for two years. They need more than prices—they need to know what to expect from your company. Will you provide refunds if travel is restricted? What safety measures are in place? Do travelers need vaccination proof? Whatever it is that your customers are asking, you need to have the answers up front to prevent them from getting frustrated looking for it. 

One way to get an inside line on changing customer needs is with AI-powered conversation intelligence technology like Invoca Signal Discovery. With Signal Discovery, you can analyze all of your customer phone conversations and visualize the most common topics. You don’t even have to listen to phone calls—Signal Discovery uses unsupervised machine learning to automatically analyze and categorize thousands of calls into similar topics into visual maps. 

With that information in hand, you can optimize your marketing efforts and customer communications to precisely match their needs and concerns. You can also create Signals from any discovered topic with just a few clicks to automatically detect and track conversational outcomes and trends in your new inbound calls.

Travel Marketers Are Spending More on Technology

Travel marketers also spent more on technology in 2022 to meet increasing consumer demands. A report from WTM and Travel Forward shows that 39% of travel marketers increased their tech spending. The drive for innovative solutions is a positive sign of recovery. It’s also a stark reminder that tech laggards run the risk of falling behind during the recovery phase if they don’t take action.

Travel marketers must take advantage of first-party data from customer conversations to get ahead of the competition. According to the Invoca Buyer Experience Report, 63% of travel consumers called during their purchasing journey in 2022, up from 53% in 2021.

The conversations that occur while they’re booking travel and accommodations are a gold mine of first-party data that enables travel marketers to optimize their marketing, reduce acquisition costs, and provide top-notch experiences for their customers. AI-powered conversation intelligence solutions like Invoca for Travel & Hospitality make it possible to access and take action on this data.

Travel Marketers Should Use Technology to Optimize Marketing Spend

Whether or not your marketing budget is increasing in 2022, you have to make the most of every dollar. Conversation intelligence technology enables travel marketers to: 

Reduce Wasted Ad Spend

Target more cost-effective keywords and ad placements, and suppress retargeting to customers who converted on the phone to focus your efforts on the most effective campaigns and reduce wasted ad spend.

Increase Conversion rates

By feeding 1st-party conversion data from customer conversations directly to ad platforms like Google Ads, you can accurately target high-value customers and the most effective keywords to increase your conversion rates.

Decrease Acquisition Costs

Armed with true attribution you can account for conversions that come from clicks and calls and accurately measure your acquisition costs, target the most effective keywords, and eliminate ineffective campaigns to reduce your CPA.

Marketers Must Create Better Experiences for Impatient Travel Customers

As excited as these refreshed travelers may be, the one thing they won’t put up with is bad customer experiences getting in the way of their adventures. A frequent source of this frustration is when they call to make a booking (remember, 63% may call!) and get put on hold, transferred, or their call is never picked up. 

When customers experience friction connecting with you, they’re going to hang up and call the competition. We found that 61% of consumers have hung up after being placed on hold and 66% will hang up if they just hear a message about long hold times! There are many reasons that callers might not connect with a travel agent, and our customer platform data shows that 26% of calls to travel companies never get answered.

Here are a few ways that Invoca conversation intelligence can help create superior call experiences for your customers and increase conversion rates:

Reduce transfers and hold times

With Invoca, travel and hospitality companies use all the first-party intent data captured during a consumer’s digital journey —  like Google search keywords, website clickstream data, and unique digital identifiers — to inform call routing in real time to reduce transfers and hold times.

Invoca’s website tag captures dozens of privacy-friendly digital intent data points as consumers search for and explore your website. As this is happening, our dynamic number insertion (DNI) code is presenting unique Invoca phone numbers to individual consumers for their specific sessions. What this means is that whenever a consumer decides to call, Invoca can use all of those digital data points to dynamically route the call to different destinations — whether that’s a call center or a local travel agent — resulting in high-value calls being answered quickly and by the right person.

Reduce unanswered calls

Every call that goes unanswered is a conversion that may never happen. With 26% of travel calls typically slipping through the cracks, that’s a lot of wasted marketing spend and missed revenue opportunities. 

Invoca Lost Sales Recovery enables you to track all of your unanswered calls by using Signals that detect voice energy to uncover whether or not the calls were answered by an agent, if the call was sent to voicemail, or if a voicemail was left. Through dashboards and user-friendly reports you can easily track your answered call rate in real time across multiple locations to figure out when and why calls aren’t being answered and fix the causes.

Simplify follow-up on missed calls

Within even the tightest ships, some calls will still get missed. With Invoca Lost Sales Recovery, you can also prioritize your missed sales calls by combining your Lost Sales Recovery Signal data with other critical data like digital intent and sales call quality so you can isolate and re-engage your highest intent callers.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you improve your travel marketing strategy? Check out these resources:

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