Along with practically every aspect of our lives, the course of travel has been redefined repeatedly over the past year and a half, with a continuously evolving version of the ‘new normal’. To explore how travel will return in 2022, Booking.com is today releasing the results of extensive research with more than 24,000 travellers across 31 countries and territories including over 500 from New Zealand to predict the trends that show how travel will continue to be redefined in the year ahead.
2022 will be the year to start making up for lost holidays in a big way, with the number of travellers who feel they need to do so having increased by 52% since last year.
In its most extensive travel predictions research to date, the digital travel leader reveals a renewed sense of optimism among travellers keen to embrace the new normal and return to exploring the world in the year ahead. Here, Booking.com shares its predictions how New Zealanders will be reigniting their travel spark in the upcoming year.
More so than daily exercise or mindful meditation, getting away on holiday will become THE form of self-care in 2022, with over three-quarters of people (79%) affirming that travel helps their mental and emotional well-being more than other forms of rest and relaxation. After more than a year of ever-evolving travel restrictions, the important benefits that travel has on health and wellbeing are now being acknowledged, with six in ten (60%) Kiwi travellers saying they didn’t realise how important travel was to their wellbeing until it was no longer an option. The majority (82%) say that having a holiday planned has a positive impact on their emotional well-being.
Resetting the Out Of (Home) Office
When the pandemic hit, homes across the globe became our offices too, and the novelty of working remotely was realised. However, in 2022 we’ll see a significant rise in people wanting to take back control in a bid to firmly re-establish a healthy work-life balance as holiday time itself will be strictly work-free for two-thirds (67%) of Kiwi travellers following the blurring of home and remote work lives in 2021.
Despite the flexibility to work remotely, close to three-quarters (71%) of New Zealand holidaymakers would rather spend less time away if it meant they could completely switch off in 2022 vs. spend more time in the destination, but having to mix business and leisure. And with four in ten (41%) Kiwis claiming to have worked more hours using fewer annual leave days during the pandemic, expect to see more people setting their well deserved out of (home) office messages next year.
All the First-Time Feels
While many of us have forgotten where our passport is or even just how to pack, all that out-of-practice travel awkwardness will give way to a genuine sense of delight for even the most routine aspects of our trips in 2022. Remember what it was like to board a plane for the very first time? Or even just to check into a hotel? After feeling ‘stuck’ for so long, rather than rushing through the journey, travellers will be relishing every moment, from fine-tuning the playlist for the rental car to browsing duty-free, with a quarter (23%) most looking forward to the pure excitement and anticipation as the journey begins.
The formerly mundane daydreaming out the train window as the scenery whizzes by or getting lost in a maze of winding cobblestone streets to pick up the keys for your holiday apartment will be sheer bliss for the three-quarters (78%) of New Zealand travellers who say travel is more enjoyable when the journey feels like part of the trip itself. Each ‘first’ of our trips will be a moment to savour, with a majority of Kiwis saying that simple pleasures such as feeling the sun on their skin (86%) or seeing a body of water of some kind instantly improve their mood for the better (77%).
As restrictions caused travel to slow in many parts of the world, the pandemic forced us to make the most of what was on our doorsteps. From supporting independently owned businesses to spending more time than ever at the neighbourhood park, our relationship with the community around us has rekindled. In 2022, this desire to connect authentically with the local community will continue on holidays too, as we seek to be more mindful about every trip we take and ensure our impact on the places we visit and the people who live there is positive.
Over half (53%) of travelling New Zealanders agree it’s important that their trip is beneficial to the local community at their destination and 47% would appreciate an app or website that provides recommendations on destinations where an increase in tourism would have a positive impact on the local community. Furthermore, 68%3 of global travellers want the money that they spend when travelling to go back to the local community and 70%3 of New Zealanders also want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture.
Swipe Right on New Places and Faces
For many, the pandemic meant spending an extended and intense period with our closest friends and loved ones, but holidays in 2022 will be an opportunity to branch out and make some new connections. With half (49%) of Kiwi travellers wanting to meet new people while away, we expect to see travellers using their trips as an opportunity to expand their usual social circles, with 55% looking forward to socialising while away and a third (33%) wanting to stay somewhere close to plenty of nightlife options so that they can meet new people.
Tired of swiping through the same faces for the past year and a half, people will also be making use of their favourite dating apps while on holiday in 2022 with travel providing an exciting opportunity to find love. Booking.com predicts a resurgence of holiday romances, with one in four (39%) Kiwi travellers hoping for love to strike on their next trip. But the romance doesn’t have to stop at the end of the trip – thanks to technology we may see more than a few of these holiday romances turn into the real deal.
Just Say Yes
After so long of being told “no” travellers are reclaiming a more positive way of thinking for 2022. In fact, most Kiwi travellers (79%) will be shirking all of the structure they’ve been contending with, preferring a holiday where they stay flexible and just go with the flow vs. having a well-planned itinerary full of activities. The coming year will bring the very best of improv to travel, with us responding to each unexpected twist and turn in the trip with an emphatic “yes, and…”
To that end, two-thirds (64%) of New Zealanders agree they will say yes to any vacation opportunity if the budget allows. And for the third (30%) that have been saving their pennies by not taking any big trips since the pandemic started, money could be no object. Almost half (44%) of Kiwi travellers are more open to different types of holidays than before and 64% won’t mind where they go as long as it’s the type of trip they want, they’re just happy to be away from home.
Embracing the Unpredictable
Uncertainty will continue to be a constant in travel in 2022, and while we cannot change or predict every new surprise and challenge that fate has in store for us, we will embrace it. Having leaned on technology in a variety of ways to stay connected and inspired over the pandemic, our favourite apps will continue to help us navigate the unknown on our trips, with half (56%) agreeing that technology helps alleviate the anxiety around travelling.
From AI-powered instant translation services that make it easier for travellers to negotiate last-minute changes of plan in another language to machine learning models that automatically inform hosts about late arrivals, technology will continue to smooth out the unforeseen bumps in the road with increasing finesse and proactivity.
Because of this, Booking.com expects to see even wider adoption of predictive technologies which can help travellers make more informed decisions, especially considering that two-thirds (64%) would be interested in an innovative service that could predict which countries will be safe to travel to, even months in advance, or automatically suggest destinations which are easy to travel to now based on both their country’s and the destination’s current COVID-19 requirements (62%).
Todd Lacey, New Zealand Area Manager at Booking.com comments: “New Zealanders were fortunate to enjoy local travel during much of the pandemic, however, the most recent lockdown restrictions have us now hungry for more – especially when it comes to dusting off our passports for international adventures. Now, as we look towards next year and vaccination rates continue to rise, we’re seeing a lot of excitement and anticipation for people to return to travel. Kiwis are particularly keen to reunite with family and friends overseas, as well as the change of pace and scenery that travel beyond our borders provides. “At Booking.com, it’s our mission to make it easier for everyone to do just that when the time is right. We will be there for travellers – offering the widest choice of stays, great value and the easiest experience from anywhere and on any device – so people can get back out into the world and enjoy all of the unforgettable experiences it has to offer.”
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with booking.com. Visit booking.com to delve deeper into its travel predictions for 2022.