There is no doubt that the pandemic modified travel—but that’s just part of the story. Hilton has released a global trends report unpacking how the pandemic changed people. “The 2022 Traveler: Emerging Trends and the Redefined Traveler, a Report from Hilton”—dives into an important truth: in two years, people’s lives were dramatically altered and that radically changed people.
As a company that has welcomed 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, Hilton showcases within the report how it is evolving alongside the changing traveler, tackling areas of expertise such as:
- Fitness: How app workouts and new fitness routines have changed people’s approach to where, when and how they exercise on-the-road.
- Spa: How the increased focus on wellness is evolving the spa, as well as the holistic, hotel experience.
- Food and beverage: How the sourdough bread trend of 2020 is translating into more demand for culinary adventures; how tequila sales are dramatically outpacing the pre-pandemic bar shelf leader, bourbon.
- Sustainability: From cooking in solar ovens to exploring using electric-assist bikes, how 18 months in lockdown is driving a renewed passion for a healthy planet.
- Design: How DIY improvements, plant-crazed hobbies and working from patios is changing people’s perspective of hotel design.
- Amenities: How the rise in pet ownership during the pandemic is leading to increased interest in pet travel and the development of hotel dog parks, pup perks and more.
- Loyalty: How the rise of loyalty programs—across all sectors—is leading to better personalization and benefits to customers.
“The world—and the hospitality industry—went through so much in the last two years,” said Chris Nassetta, president/CEO, Hilton. “And as we’ve uncovered in this report, travelers’ needs and interests have shifted too. At Hilton, we’ve been incredibly focused on delivering the experiences our guests are looking for, through every up and down we’ve faced. As we look to the future, I am optimistic about what lies ahead—travel is certainly returning, and we’re excited to build on that momentum.”
The report highlights dozens of eye-opening travel and behavioral trends that are leading to innovations both inside and outside of the hotel. While each trend details specific insights and data driving change, four consistent themes emerged that summarize the new, pandemic-changed traveler:
- Amid chaos, people found efficiencies—and will be looking for the same in travel: People have embraced efficiencies in many aspects of life and will be looking for similar conveniences in their travels, like contactless check-in and checkout and digital keys.
- Overall focus on wellness will span beyond the gym: With a reimagined workplace and new routines and habits in place, travelers will be looking for more grounding and balance in their travel schedules.
- They nurtured new and existing passions and will have more refined tastes and preferences: New and refreshed hobbies are leading to a more informed, sophisticated, and, in some cases, in-shape 2022 traveler. People are anticipated to pack their passions, driving demand for new trends in fitness, culinary options and unique travel experiences.
- A new sense of caring has emerged—and is expected to strengthen: The pandemic separated families and friends, which is leading to a prioritization of reunion and reconnection travel in 2022. Beyond their inner circles, travelers are expected to care more about sustainability and community efforts—and are looking to remain loyal to brands, companies and organizations that align with their values.
“The pandemic’s impact on the travel industry has been well documented. However, it’s equally important to recognize the psychological impact the pandemic had, and will continue to have, on travelers for years to come,” said Dr. Kate Cummins, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who recognizes travel as an important component of mental well-being. “The traveler may have changed, but the benefit of travel remains the same—increased emotional health and wellness, and after a tough two years, that’s something we all need.”