The pandemic changed travel for good. But even before that, travel was always evolving. Most of us aren't dressing up for flights these days, for example. In fact, commercial air travel itself is still relatively young, as is the idea of traveling for leisure. 

With the travel shakeups (and mishaps) of this summer, there are bound to be even more exciting changes to come. Even if you work outside of the travel industry, travel trends shine a spotlight on the ways we can appeal to a new generation of consumers, and how their habits affect one of our largest industries. 

Read below for the travel trends to expect in this new era. 

Travel Trends Are Driven by Gen Z and Millennials 

These travel trends are largely driven by Gen Z and Millennials but aren't exclusive to these younger travelers. The spending and traveling habits of these two groups are shaping the industry and showcasing their purchasing habits. 

Slowed Business Travel 

Business travel took one of the biggest hits in the pandemic. And unlike vacation travel, business travel hasn’t made nearly the same comeback. With years of working remotely and meeting on Zoom under their belts, workers are less likely to justify traveling for work. They are reprioritizing business travel and scaling down to what’s necessary. Plus, efforts to cut costs are taking precedence to protect businesses against potential economic downfalls. Slowing business travel sits right in the middle of moving toward digital work and efforts to cut costs. 

International Travel 

Gen Z and Millennials prioritize international travel, and 40% of them traveled abroad in the last year

Because international locations were off limits due to travel restrictions, people chose local and domestic vacations. National parks, beaches, and historical sites in cities all saw an increase in visitors.

With travel restrictions gone in many destinations, people are not only returning to international travel but are looking to make up for lost time. Finding ways to make international travel budget-friendly is a great way to appeal to younger audiences.

Nature and Off-the-Grid Trips 

Nature-oriented trips are an easy getaway for many. These trips can be free or cheap, family-friendly, and easily accessible. People are rediscovering nature trips through camping, road trips, fishing, and more. 

On top of being physically away, more people are also choosing to be digitally away. With social media ever-present and the blur between work and home life, these off-the-grid trips help people decompress. 

Off-the-grid trips don’t have to literally be off the grid or tied with nature. You don’t need to go to a remote location (or even go on a hike) to have an off-the-grid trip. Though you might not be connecting with nature by going to a beach resort or exploring a new city, you can do the simple task of shutting off your phone. In our current climate, this type of trip is more appealing than ever.

Carbon Offset

Travel is up, and so is the practice of carbon offsetting. This refers to calculating your carbon footprint on your vacation (mostly used for flights or car trips) and taking action to bring your personal carbon use for these events back to neutral. Popular ways to offset include making a donation, purchasing a 100% eco-friendly product or service, or deliberately lowering your carbon use for a set period of time after traveling. 

As climate concerns grow, many travelers want to commit to a more eco-friendly lifestyle but aren’t willing to sacrifice their travel plans. (remember: younger generations specifically prioritize travel). This makes carbon offsetting a unique opportunity in a new field of eco-friendly options.

Subscriptions and Direct Channels 

Travel subscription services are also on the rise, with airlines, hotels, and travel companies getting in on the concept. Customers are purchasing “travel passes,” allowing them to utilize airline services, accommodations, and more at a rate and frequency they sign up for. This can be a great deal, depending on the service. 

So, while the traditional travel agent may be dead, customers are leaning into some concept of pre-booked travel, seeking out curated experiences, and finding creative ways to take trips that don't require endlessly searching for the best deals. 

Companies are influencers are targeting audiences and customers directy through messaging and custom offers, and people are responding.

What's it All Mean? 

Travel is often thought of as a luxury and one of the first markets to go when people tighten their belts or a recession hits. Even if your business doesn’t directly deal in travel, understanding people’s habits, especially how they move and how they prioritize leisure, can help you tap into changing markets and changing ideas about what qualifies as essential, and what qualifies as luxury.

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