The future of tourism in 2022
Starting a new year is a good time to look towards the future. What’s happening and what’s changing? What are the most relevant trends and which ones to follow? Predicting what’s going to happen in 2022 is extremely difficult due to the everchanging course of COVID-19. Of course, this didn’t prevent trendwatchers to identify a whole range of trends.
There are many trends out there, but in this article we focused on those that will lead the future of tourism and we believe are here to stay. We hope the year of 2022 represents the first steps of recovery for the tourism industry.
At the Good Tourism Institute, we believe that good tourism is inevitably intertwined with a successful future in tourism. And for tour operators to run their business responsibly. To create travel experiences that have a positive impact on the local economy, communities, and nature conservation. And at the same time offer your customers an experience of a lifetime.
6 key good tourism trends
To support you to be a part of the future, we listed 6 important trends we find worth following. Be inspired by the trends and the corresponding tips on how to respond to them for a successful future.
In this article
Trend 1: Online preparation
According to Google research, travellers who took a large trip in 2021 spent over 70% of their time researching their trip online. It’s expected this will grow in 2022 as well. When travellers are spending this much time online, they’re searching for inspiration, tips, and companies to book their trips with.
How to respond
You can respond this trend by being visible online. Invest time in your online marketing strategy. Make sure your website is found by those researching their next trip. You can achieve this through content marketing. This strategy helps you give potential customers what they are looking for, while they are actively searching for it. This means creating content, such as blogs, photos and videos about your business and everything you offer.
Also make sure to be active on social media for online brand visibility but also to convert followers to clients.
Trend 2: Loyal customers
It’s predicted that in the coming years, travellers will look to remain loyal to brands and businesses that align with their values. Brands that care for the planet and who contribute to a better world. If travellers found a brand they love, they’ll choose to come back again instead of searching for something else.
How to respond
Earning customer loyalty is not something you can do overnight. Key is to make sure to know and communicate your own value. How can travellers align if you are not certain about yours? Also focus on increasing your customer value. There are no real shortcuts or easy ways to stimulate loyalty. You have to work hard and earn it, as creating loyal customers requires care and devotion.
Lastly, also (re)connect with your customers via email marketing to keep on top of their mind. You’ll benefit from this as soon as they’ll start travelling again.
Trend 3. Philantourism
Philantourism is a trend that originated in COVID-19 times and is a natural evolution of volunteer tourism. It’s tourism where travellers choose off the beaten track destinations to spend their free time and their money. Specifically in those destinations that need it the most. They don’t commit to projects locally, but simply spend their money to benefit the local economy.
How to respond
Both you as a tour operator and your customers are important for this trend. For tour operators, it’s important to offer trips and travel experiences to lesser-known destinations and create itineraries that support the local economy. You can also increase your impact by developing community-based tourism.
For travellers, it’s important they know where to go and how they can best support the local economy. Do this by adding tips for local restaurants and shops to your itineraries and traveller communication. This stimulates travellers to go out and spend locally!
Trend 4. Minimum carbon footprint
This is already a very familiar trend to most tour operators, but now it’s also a growing factor for travellers. According to research by Ipsos, 50% of travellers claim that carbon emissions and offset options are worth considering when booking a new trip.
How to respond
First, it’s important to take the goal of a low(er) carbon footprint seriously. Sign the Glasgow declaration and start reducing your emissions. In your office but also in the trips and experiences you develop. Offer destinations closer to home and include train travel. Also focus on slow travel and add carbon-free travel experiences. Hiking, biking, sailing, and kayaking are popular and allow travellers to experience the destination to the fullest.
Thereby, also provide your customers with the option to compensate their trip. Be transparent in your calculations and offsetting program or partner.
Trend 5. Continued care for health and safety
Not surprisingly, research continues to show that health and safety measures regarding COVID-19 make travellers feel safer. Travellers search online for the specific regulations and measures companies take to provide a safe experience. They expect their well-being to be top priority throughout their trip.
How to respond
COVID-19 is here to stay, at least for now. Most importantly is that you take responsibility for the health and safety of your customers. Update your company health and safety protocol where relevant. And clearly communicate the safety regulations to your customers. Be clear and positive about what’s possible in the destinations you offer. But also manage expectations and prepare customers for changes.
Additionally, also make sure to have fair and flexible cancellation policy available. (Potential) customers require transparency and honesty.
Trend 6. Experience of a lifetime
Flowing from two years of COVID-19, lockdowns and travel restrictions all over the world, travellers are looking for “the experience of a lifetime” trips. They realised they don’t want to postpone their bucket list trips and are looking for grand adventures for when they can finally travel again.
How to respond
Offer travellers the experience of a lifetime by creating new (and longer) itineraries with the highlights of the destination. Create trips that make travellers travel slower and experience the destination to the fullest. Don’t forget that a highlights trip does not necessarily mean including the most famous tourist attractions. Surprise your customers by going off the beaten track and to offer them something special.
For the best tailored experience, make it easy for travellers to add smaller packages to extend their trip. For example, a few days relaxing on the beach or a mountain trekking.
What does your future look like?
Keep in mind that not all trends (in this article and overall) are fully relevant for every tour operator. Select those trends that support you in your journey towards the future of tourism. Keep close to your mission and USPs and focus on the trends that make you better in business.
Your business development is subject to the (local) circumstances, niche market, target group and your preferences. Be in charge of your own future but remain open for outside inspiration and influences.