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Accor’s Northern Europe study reveals the intent and expectations of travellers in 2022 and beyond

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The desire for fly and flop has been heightened as beach holidays top the wish list for travel in 2022 with 33% of respondents planning sun and sand getaways. City breaks (26%) are expected to come back as the call of cosmopolitan culture returns.

A new research study by Accor reveals optimism about the return of travel in 2022 with travellers intending to spend an average of 39% more on travel in 2022 than they did in 2019 and to take an average of 4 trips this year.

The study asked 6,000 people across five countries - UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Russia - about their travel preferences and desires. The results were highly positive and indicate travellers value travel and vacation time more than ever. Despite recent setbacks with the Delta and Omicron variants, more than 80% plan to travel in 2022. They want to travel a lot and after two years of restrictions, they want to spend significant sums.

The research study forms part of an in-depth Northern Europe Travel Trends Report published by Accor examining how changes in behaviour post-Covid will change the way we travel, live, work and play in 2022 and beyond.

The desire for fly and flop has been heightened as beach holidays top the wish list for travel in 2022 with 33% of respondents planning sun and sand getaways. City breaks (26%) are expected to come back as the call of cosmopolitan culture returns. The rewilding of mindful travel continues, heighten by Omicron. Research pre Omicron indicated one in five (20%) sought country escapes, but the recent pandemic surge resulted in an increased desire for nature, with 30% of travellers seeking holidays in nature in 2022. Omicron has doubled our desire to explore our own country – at the end of 2021 just 14% of travellers were planning staycations and at the start of 2022 that number has doubled to 28%. Overall 25% of respondents are more likely to staycation as a result of Omicron. After two challenging years, 14% of Europeans are planning all-out luxury, the trip of a lifetime to make up for all the lost travel in the pandemic years.

  • Italy has been identified as the number one destination for travellers from Europe.
  • Furthermore, 55% of those surveyed intend to keep their travels within Europe, and of those willing to explore beyond the continent, 13% are planning trips to North America and 11% to Southeast Asia.
  • 30% of people are actively planning and booking trips for the first half of the year,
  • 50% for the second half of the year and nearly one in five (17%) are booking trips for 2023 already.

Whilst the appetite for travel is clearly strong, the study also shows what travellers expect to change with 1 in 5 (22%) saying their travelling priorities will be different post pandemic. Booking flexibility and high sanitary standards topped the list of what Europeans expect as a “must have” in 2022 and beyond. 31% want clearer health and safety standards and 1 in 5 (19%) would be willing to pay more for a hotel room if it had a recognised cleanliness initiative award, such as Accor’s global ALLSAFE health and sanitary label. 30% seek more flexibility on changes to bookings. Technology will also play a significant role in offering a more contact-light travel experience, with 23% of European travellers expecting more contactless payment options and 17% wanting an increase in hotel technology from WhatsApp customer service to improvements in hotel room TVs. People want to travel, they also want to be safe and are now adjusting to the fact that the two can co-exist. Given the uncertainty of the last few months, reassurance, both in safety and flexibility, is a must for travel in 2022 and beyond, The way people travel is also tipped for change. 16% expect less air travel in 2022, 18% expect a return of rail and car travel and 13% expect trip stacking to continue as a standard in 2022 giving travellers the reassurance that at least one of the trips should go ahead as planned.

A rare positive to come from the Covid years is the increased awareness of sustainability as a priority consideration. Sustainability and the impact of the trip on the climate and planet is now a factor for 87% of people. This influences choice around where to go, how to get there, where they stay and what to do while onsite. Mindful Travel is set to be a major trend in 2022. The emotional and experiential role of travel also has more prominence now than ever before. 66% agree, “One of my biggest priorities when going on holiday is boosting my mental wellbeing and leaving my stresses behind”. After two years of restrictions, the adage of ‘a change is as good as a rest’ has never been truer. 67% agree, “Being somewhere different enables me to clear my head and restore some order in my life”.

Commenting on the findings and the report, Karelle Lamouche, Chief Commercial Officer, Accor Northern Europe, said: “Covid has not dampened our desire for travel, it complicated the process. Even though one in five had to cancel or postpone a trip due to the Omicron variant, people are still committed to travelling and to spending 39% more than they did in 2019. Last year travel was spontaneous, often booked and taken within a few days. Now, post Omicron, people are planning and booking travel already for the next three years. They have much to look forward to and make up for in 2022.

“It is clear that priorities have shifted in the last two years. Sustainability factors more than ever into the decisions people make. Work/Life balance is no longer just a tag-line and travellers have a new awareness of the positive impact that travel has on their wellbeing. In fact, a staggering two thirds of us want to travel as a way of boosting our mental health. We expect this trend for betterment, mindfulness, and wellbeing to be part of the travel experience for years to come, accelerated by the opportunities lost to Covid. Travel is back, experiences are back and Europe is starting 2022 with optimism.”

Accor’s Top 10 Travel Trends

  1. HOLIDAY MILLIONAIRES - If they have the cash, people - after two years of restrictions - want to splash it.
  2. BIOPHILIA – The call of nature remains strong as travellers head to coast and country
  3. LINGER LONGER – Sustainability, mindfulness and workations all contribute to longer trips
  4. CRAFTED CONTENTMENT – Self-improvement, learning and experiences in travel
  5. SOLITUDE – Solo-travel, self-care and ‘me time’ expected to boom in 2022
  6. HYBRID WORKING – The new business traveller, impacted by hybrid working, workspitality and new ways of working
  7. CITY CELEBRANTS – After two years of isolation, people want to feel part of human life again.
  8. THE NEW COMPANIONS - Big Bubbles, Gramping and Pets
  9. HOTEL RESIDENCES – The rise of branded residences
  10. LOYALTY – ALL: Accor Live Limitless, the ultimate travel companion
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