Welcome to the new era of travel. There have been such seismic shifts in the sector that how we travel now is barely recognizable to a few years ago. As the world settles down from the turbulence of the pandemic, will we be going back to previous travel habits or can we expect the old ways to mix with the new innovations adopted by the industry in order to survive?

3 trends that will dominate in 2022

1. Remote working isn’t going away.

Companies have opened their eyes to the benefits of a remote workforce, with saved office costs and higher productivity rates being just two benefits on offer. Standford’s study of 16,000 remote workers over nine months showed a 13% increase in productivity. Worker satisfaction was up and attrition rates halved. This was attributed to fewer sick days and fewer breaks increasing productivity. 

This change in how we work and live ultimately affects how we choose to travel. Guests are staying for longer to combine business with leisure. In 2021, most chose to stay in more rural areas. And this may continue for the early months of 2022, but as life returns to some kind of normality, or the “new normal”, we’ll see the rise of smaller urban vacations again. Because of this, the average daily rate (ADR) is expected to decrease in 2022.

These extended stays could double peak seasons in many US cities. Data showed that last summer the peak began months earlier and extended much later into fall, with longer stays making up 15% of bookings in the US. 

2021 saw higher demand for short-term rentals than listings available to book. We’ll see more rentals come back on the market in 2022. But will they realize guests are now looking for more flexible accommodation? People want to book last-minute trips or have the ability to change their plans at short notice. They want security during ever-changing restrictions and to make up for lost time with spontaneity.

2. Sustainable travel choices - going green isn’t just a nice-to-have any more.

After the 2021 COP26 Summit, the travel industry is one of many sectors taking more responsibility for its environmental impact. There will be a rise in ecotourism as guests start voting with their feet when booking accommodation. Beware of greenwashing - it won’t hoodwink savvy guests. They are more educated than ever and will be looking for companies with sustainability at their core. By using vacation rental management software brands can build a trusted reputation and be easily found through eco-filters. 

69% of global travelers expect the industry to offer more eco-friendly travel options and 38-43% of US, European and Chinese travelers would be willing to give up flying to help climate change. The decarbonization of the industry through setting long-term economic goals was already a national priority, but recent events further encouraged companies to take huge measures to address this issue. Leading the way is the EU with its European Green Deal. 

Amadeus’s research shows two-thirds of customers see sustainable travel as a priority, with 37% agreeing that preservation of tourist destinations will help the industry achieve sustainability over time. US travelers searching for vacations to eco-paradise Costa Rica was up 234% and in the UK travelers were considering carbon-neutral Ireland 11% more year-on-year.

It’s predicted travelers will seek to give back to local communities through volunteering opportunities and by choosing regions less populated by tourism over the usual hyped destinations. They want to see where their money is going and will find ways to fund local destinations directly. 

3. Technology will dominate in the new era of travel.

From the booking process to the stay itself, tech innovations are fully integrated into the whole travel experience. Property managers need to keep on top of these tech changes so they can meet guest needs and build traveler confidence. Most already benefit from the support of short-term rental property management software, but the WTM Industry Report found 39% of surveyed professionals plan to increase their tech budget in 2022.

The tech amenities hospitality was forced to adopt to survive over the past couple of years have now become necessities. Contactless check-in with keyless entry, guest communication, and smart home monitoring are just some of the vacation rental tools that have made stays seamless for both guests and property managers. 

A survey showed the top issues travelers want tech to solve: reducing queues in public spaces (38%), minimizing face-to-face contact with others (31%), and protecting personal information (31%). It also suggested the best ways property managers can build travel confidence, such as providing flexible change/cancellation policies and having the visible assurance of cleanliness measures taken in accommodations. 

The future of travel

The advance of technology and prioritization of sustainability in the travel industry was inevitable, but recent events accelerated these changes years, maybe even decades, ahead. Less expected was the rise of the digital nomad and flexible living. We can safely say now, after much change, these trends are here to stay in 2022 and beyond. 

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