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2023 Traveler Value Index

2023 Traveler Value Index

Gap Between Traveler Expectations and Industry Perceptions

In previous research, you’ve heard directly from consumers about their travel activity and their expectations for their travel experiences. In this report, you will also hear from travel professionals — the hotel and vacation rental owners, airline revenue managers, destination marketers, travel loyalty program managers, and others around the world — who have kept the industry humming.

Key Takeaways:

  • Absence Made the Appetite for Travel Stronger – Not being able to travel reminded us all how important it is — for connecting with friends and family, for relaxing, for exploring new places and cultures.
    • 46% of consumers globally say travel is more important to them now compared to pre-pandemic
  • 43% are backing up that claim by upping their travel budget in 2023.
  • The amount people travel is also increasing: 79% say they plan to take a leisure trip in the next year, up from 76% just a few months prior, with the average person saying they plan to take two leisure trips.
  • In earlier research, asked about reasons for travel, time with friends and family was at the top of the Over 2022, additional reasons for travel emerged:
    • 49% cited a change of scenery as the inspiration for travel
    • 49% Physical and/or mental health benefits
    • 46% – Making up for lost time with friends and family
    • 43% – Having new experiences  
    • 23% – Getting out of their comfort zone
    • 15% – Using up travel credits accumulated during the pandemic
  • Travelers Vote With their Values – Travelers weigh many variables when they are booking elements of a trip: price, convenience, safety, flexibility, and more.
    • Travel industry professionals (64%) and consumers (70%) agree that people choose a travel destination, accommodation, or transportation option that was more inclusive, even if it was more expensive than other options.
    • 78% of respondents say they have made a travel choice based on promotions or ads they feel represent them through messaging or visuals. For millennials, that figure is even higher — 84% have made a travel choice based on representation in advertising.
    • Spotlight on Sustainability: 90% of consumers are looking for sustainable options when traveling.
    • Businesses in the travel space are investing in inclusive and sustainable practices:
      • 47% are adding or updating offerings to be more inclusive
      • 45% are improving accessibility
      • 42% are working directly with and promoting local cultures/communities
      • 39% are reducing environmental impact
      • 38% are offering options for buying carbon offsets/carbon offsetting
    • Despite Fewer Barriers to Travel, Travelers Continue to Demand Flexibility
      • Nearly all organizations (96%) say they offer refundable services or credits — with most of them (77%) first introducing some of their refundable offerings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Both travelers and industry professionals agree on #1 considerations that people value most when booking travel, in order of importance:
    • Atypical, low pricing
    • Ability to get a full refund on bookings if you need to cancel
    • Enhanced and frequent cleaning/disinfection methods
    • Flexible policies to change bookings without fees or penalty
    • Premium, first-class benefits and upgrades
    • Contactless experience throughout trip
    • Environmentally friendly policies
  • All Eyes are on the Return of International and Business Travel
    • International leisure travel:
      • Only 8% of industry professionals say leisure travel is back to pre-pandemic levels.
      • Those in the hotel (39%) and airline (33%) industries are most confident that leisure travel has already returned.
      • 63% expect it to return within two years.
    • Business Travel:
      • The industry is similarly optimistic about business travel: 70% say they expect it to return within two years to pre-pandemic levels.
      • Appetite for business travel rapidly accelerated in just the last six months. Earlier this year, a majority said they weren’t planning any business travel.
      • 76% of people plan to take a “flexcation” trip in the next 12 months, during which they will combine remote work with leisure travel.
    • Price Sensitivity Returns as Inflation Rises
      • In the biggest change year-over -year, low pricing reappeared at the top of the list when booking all elements of a trip. 27% of people say it is what they value most when booking travel.
        • Reinforcing this, consumers also say inflation is impacting their travel plans more than ongoing pandemic concerns and travel restrictions, particularly those in North and South America and Europe.
        • 43% of consumers say their travel budget will be larger than last year.
        • In contrast, 58% of travel professionals say consumers’ travel budget will be larger than last year.
      • Most appealing deals to consumers when they book travel:
        • 33% cite a complimentary add on (free parking, free checked bag)
        • 33% – A discount for booking 4-12 weeks in advance
        • 32% – A discount for booking a package (ex: a flight and vacation rental together)
        • 22% – A discount for booking last minute
        • 22% – A discount for a longer trip or stay
        • 21% – A discount for booking through a mobile ap
        • 20% – A discount for booking travel to/in a specific location
        • 17% – A discount if you are a member of the travel provider’s loyalty program
      • Travelers Have Yet to Fully Realize the Benefit to Travel Loyalty Programs
        • What do consumers value most from travel loyalty programs they are a member of?
          • 52% said special discount pricing
          • 46% – Collecting points and redeeming them for future purchases
          • 42% – Complementary upgrades, add-ons, or other perks
          • 34%Exclusive access to amenities and services
          • 32% – Receiving an overall better experience

Stand Out to Travelers and Prepare For a Successful 2023:

  • Maintain your refundable rates and flexible policies.
  • Set realistic expectations with travelers — and have realistic expectations for your staff.
  • Be thoughtful about discounts and perks.
  • Lean into and showcase your brand values.
  • Keep a pulse on traveler feedback to understand how they perceive their experience.

View the full 2023 Traveler Value Index from Expedia Group: