Virtuoso reveals hottest bounce back trends at Travel Week – Travel Weekly

Virtuoso has revealed its coveted luxe travel data report, revealing a strong recovery for the high-end travel sector and a penchant for wellness travel.

The data was presented at Virtuoso’s 34th annual Travel Week in Vegas, which kicked off on Monday, welcoming 5,000 of luxury travel’s top professionals for a week packed with all things luxury travel.

The luxury network revealed when, where and how affluent travelers are booking in the post-pandemic environment, using data and insights from its network of travel advisors, preferred partners and high net worth/ultra-high net worth clientele based on its data warehouse of more than $49.5 billion in transactions and an ongoing series of surveys.

Upscale travelers are ready to resume their pre-pandemic travel lives, according to Virtuoso, and have consistently led the way, even during shaky times.

76 per cent of travelers have accepted a “new normal” (up from 35 per cent in January 2022), with many travelers making peace with all the uncertainty and volatility.

Now, the number of travelers who were put off by traveling in January 2022 has dropped by 26 points (from 38 per cent to 12 per cent).

In January 2022, 85 per cent said they were in a ready-to-travel mindset and 86 per cent planned to take an international trip. Fast forward to summer 2022, even airports overwhelmed with air traffic and lost baggage is no strong deterrent for getting back out there.

Outbound leisure travel sales have shown a strong rebound, even in markets where borders only recently opened up. Australia has already outperformed 2019 numbers for 2022 by 113 per cent, the US by 122 per cent, and Canada – at 80 per cent is rapidly catching up.

Globally, we have surpassed 2019 – travel’s high water mark – for outbound travel booked January-July at 102 per cent.

Future sales of travel in 2023 are pacing 47 per cent higher than 2019—great news for cruising, which is leading the way with heavy bookings in 2023.

And, travelers are willing to put their money where their mouth is; 74 per cent of Virtuoso travelers say “creating a travel experience that best fits my expectations is more important than price,” with plans to increase their previous year’s spend of $20,700 per person by 34 per cent to $27,800 in the next year

However, according to Tourism Economics, Global outbound leisure spending won’t fully bounce back until Q2 2024 exceeding 2019 levels by 21 per cent by 2024. And from there, the numbers keep climbing, surging to 55 per cent of 2019 levels by 2026.

Who is traveling, where are they headed, and why?

In terms of who is traveling, the most popular way is traveling with a spouse or significant other, followed by traveling with friends and family trips with kids under 18.

Solo travel is also on the rise—but not in the way you might expect. Among Virtuoso clients, the highest level of interest is coming from the 65+ age group, increasing from 4 per cent in 2019 to 18 per cent in 2022 while interest among travelers ages 18-34 has dropped from 12 per cent in 2019 to 6 per cents in 2022.

Meanwhile, younger, richer travelers are getting out there, in a big way; the 18-34 age group averaged 2.2 more international trips in the past year than the 65+ age group and 1.3 more domestic trips.

The hottest global summer destinations? The United States, Italy, France, Canada, and Greece come out on top, followed by the UK, Spain, Mexico, Ireland, and Switzerland.

Islands and beaches are topping travelers’ lists for holiday travel, followed by trips with a wellness component or an ocean cruise. Notably, wellness-focused trips were the only category to see a year-over-year increase: 2021 (13 per cent) versus 2022 (24 per cent).

And as for the why, disconnecting from the routine and stresses of home and connecting with new people, cultures, and ideas are primary reasons for travel in 2022, as such; purpose-driven travel is still paramount.

Environmentally-friendly philosophies and practices and the preservation of natural and cultural heritage are top-of-mind concerns, especially among gen Z and millennials, and 56 per cent of gen Z and 46 per cent of millennials are willing to pay more for eco- friendly tourism practices and travel that preserves natural and cultural heritage.

Virtuoso’s Travel Week will continue until Friday, with an expected 180,000 one-to-one networking appointments between advisors and travel companies, plus a full roster of professional development sessions by renowned presenters and its first Travel Tech Summit.

Featured image: Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch presents as Travel Week 2022 (supplied)

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