‘Catch-up consumer’ is key 2022 travel trend

Abta says more consumers want to catch up on lost time during the pandemic by holidaying overseas in 2022 – and many want to splash more cash on their trips than before.

Almost half (49%) of people say that limited opportunities to travel during the pandemic have made their holidays more important to them than before, rising to almost two-thirds (65%) among families with children over five.

The association’s study also predicts “the new age of the expert” as holidaymakers increasingly turn to travel agents for help and advice.

Furthermore, 27% of people are more likely to book a package holiday now than before the pandemic, for financial protection and “a feeling that everything will be taken care of”.

The Travel in 2022 report was revealed at Abta’s Travel Trends conference, held in person in London and online.

Emma Brennan, Abta’s head of media and PR, said: “People are making the most of the opportunity to travel again and to make up for the lost 18 months, two years [amid the pandemic].”

Almost two thirds (61%) of those surveyed plan to go abroad within the next year, up 4% on 2020.

From February 2020 to July 2021 only about 16% of people went on a foreign holiday, down from 64% who went abroad in 2019.

The report notes that winter sun and winter sports breaks are both selling well, as holidaymakers “jump at their chance to enjoy a well-deserved break”.

Almost half (46%) of consumers expect to spend more money on their holidays next year, up from 29% in 2020.

Brennan said members are seeing holidaymakers upgrading from a three to a four-star hotel, extending their stay from 10 to 14 nights or opting for a more expensive destination.

Favourite hotspots remain the likes of Spain, the US, France, Italy and Greece but more than a third (37%) say they are likely to choose a country they have never been to before, up from 32% in 2020.

Travel agents and operators are also reaping the rewards of helping customers during the pandemic, as many Abta members are seeing enquiries and bookings from a high percentage of new customers.

The report notes that Hays Travel said more than half of its business has come from new customers since April 2021, and more than 60% of Inghams’ customers are booking with them for the first time.

Cruise lines are also seeing more first-time customers than ever before, thanks in part to the ‘seacations’ around the British Isles during summer 2021.

Abta figures show that more than a third (36%) of people have now been on a cruise – the highest percentage ever in its research – and up from 32% in 2020.

The report also highlights how the importance of sustainability to consumers “has grown sharply over the past 10 years”.

In 2011, 20% of people said that the green/environmental/sustainability credentials of their holiday provider were important to them – that has now nearly tripled to more than half (54%) in 2021.

Brennan highlighted how more tour operators have signed up to Abta’s Travelife for Accommodation sustainability certification programme, while some members are developing ‘nature positive’ initiatives.

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