Lavish stays, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and Netflix-inspired vacations are igniting this summer’s travel trends.
After two years in which millions have not taken flights or vacations in general due to pandemic-related restrictions, many are rushing to visit their favorite countries or venture into hideaways they have only read about or dreamed about. People are traveling more than ever to balance the last two years, with last-minute plans for big trips gaining ground, according to Ashley Isaacs Ganz, founder and CEO of Artisans of Travel.
“Overall, luxury travel is back and they are ready to indulge. You want the best of everything now. They want everything private. They privatize access to museums [or] sites. [Think an after-hours tour of the Uffizi in Florence followed by dinner in a private palazzo or a solo expedition to an archeological site or tombs in Egypt.] Many ask about private boat charters or jets. They upgrade room categories to top suites. They take friends and family with them,” she says.
According to online travel booking site Kayak.com, international flight prices are up 31 percent year-on-year and domestic flight prices are up 25 percent. Searches for international summer travel are up more than 70 percent year-on-year, while searches for domestic flights are up 18 percent.
The increase in travel demand, a 95 percent increase in fuel prices compared to 2019 and reduced seating capacity for summer getaways are not deterring many. According to Hopper’s 2022 Travel Guide, airlines expect to carry 2.4 million travelers every day. Despite airfares soaring and hotel rates up 36 percent year-on-year, people will be taking trips at this point, with 24 percent flying for the first time since the pandemic broke, according to Hopper’s Hayley Berg.
In addition to Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain, other European ports of call such as Vienna, Prague and Budapest are also in high demand, as are Dubai, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East, says Ganz. With parts of Asia and the Pacific reopening, places like Bali, Australia and New Zealand are rebounding. Artisans of Travel’s ‘Greece by Yacht’ tour, where clients spend the day on yachts and stay in first-class hotels every night, is one of the most popular excursions this summer. Many families book this trip despite a starting price of $85,000 per person for two people or $51,000 per person for four people.
Pandemic streaming and binge-watching of Emily in Paris and Call My Agent is inspiring many trips to Paris, especially among teenagers. Shows often influence where people want to go to see the decorative arts sites or museums that have been remodeled or recently reopened and featured in these series. “Inventing Anna” encourages others to hit Morocco, says Ganz.
Elise Bronzo, vice president of sales at Indagare, a membership-based travel and media company, agrees that many travelers are returning in droves to enduring European favorites like France and Italy. Others take a carpe diem approach, planning bucket-list trips like safaris in Africa or treks in Patagonia, she says.
Undeterred by higher airline ticket prices due to fewer available flights, Indagare travelers have increased their travel budgets by an average of 30 percent and extended their trips to rationalize not having spent anything on travel during the pandemic. Hotel budgets have also increased, with members spending about $1,500 per room each night, compared to $1,100 to $1,200 per night before the pandemic.
Five-day stays weren’t out of the question before COVID-19, but that’s no longer the case. “Travelling in 2019 had entered an age of fast fashion where we feel we are now leaning more towards haute couture. Rather than just trying to tick things off their travel country list, they prefer to immerse themselves in one or possibly two countries, planning stays of 10 days to a month,” says Bronzo. More remote locations such as Amelia Romano, Ischia, Sicily, Malta and Paros are of increasing interest.
Despite many countries and European airlines lifting masks, travelers are advised to stay safe by following mask protocols and hand washing as the US still requires a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country. Private aviation is becoming increasingly popular, in part due to many airlines being grounded and limited opportunities for short-haul flights to more remote locations.
“Convenience is the ultimate luxury,” says Bronzo. “Some of the innovations coming out over the coming months and years will be more customer-friendly luxury short-haul flights to destinations with smaller airports like Asheville, NC and Palm Springs. Given the issues associated with travel, private flying is growing in popularity and those who can fly it are looking for bigger planes to carry their friends.”
In March, Bombardier delivered its 100th Global 7500 to VistaJet. With a list price of US$75 million, the Global 7500 is the world’s largest and longest-ranging business jet, capable of carrying 19 passengers and, in its fully-equipped version, featuring a bedroom, living room and dining room (which can also serve as a conference room) room), living room, kitchen, a bathroom with stand-up shower and a guest toilet. Others like NetJets are also buying larger aircraft like the Global 7500, as well as the Global 5500 and Global 6500.
With many holidaymakers eager to redeem travel credits for trips booked in 2020 and 2021, extensive advance planning is essential for high-volume trips like safaris and even less exotic trips like Europe. “Europe is more popular than ever, but there are amazing places to visit in Africa too. It’s important to look further afield, to places like Morocco that need our tourism dollars more than ever. So think of Marrakech, Egypt and a lot of the other really far away places for the fall,” says Bronzo.
A greater number of people are looking for more adventurous and meaningful trips than the typical tourist getaway, said Geetika Agrawal, founder of Vacation With an Artist, or VAWAA. “The pandemic just totally accelerated that because everyone had a project during the pandemic. Someone baked bread, someone made art, someone made music – everyone started hobbies.”
Q1 demand was the highest in VAWAA history, and the summer is shaping up the same way. Customers are increasingly flying with family and friends to learn stone carving in Mexico, for example. This deepens bonds with each other and with a local community, while also allowing someone to pursue a passion, says Agrawal. VAWAA experiences range from $500 to $3,000 per person, excluding flights and accommodations. In some cases, people can stay with the artist for as little as $300 for a four or five-day stay. These humble lodgings fit seamlessly with the richness of experience most VAWAA travelers are looking for, says Agrawal.