Social Samosa speaks to travel platforms to find out developments that defined 2022 & trends to expect in India’s travel industry in 2023.
In the last two years, the travel bug has been killed from getting locked inside the four walls, buried and now resurrected.
The year 2022 revived the love for travel and it was quick to bounce back to normal. To make up for the lost time, consumers were seeking revenge. This is how a new trend of revenge travelling was born and who knew that a negative sentiment could lead to the recovery of an entire industry? 2022 is proof of that.
So what led to this vengeance for vacation?
“Travel enthusiasts had saved money during the two-year hiatus to fulfill their travel bucket list and were more eager to spend big on their next vacation. Additionally, payment options such as travel now pay later and no-cost EMIs made travel affordable and accessible for all,” said Aditya Gupta, Senior Vice President, Hotels and Holidays, Yatra.com.
This trend remained unaffected by inflation and airfare hikes.
“Travel is back with a vengeance, boosted by strong pent-up demand, improved confidence levels and the lifting of restrictions in an increasing number of destinations. The interesting trend is that despite a rise in airfares this year there is still a strong demand. Because of the pent-up demand and international borders fully re-opening this year, there is a surge in revenge tourism,” said Manan Bajoria, VP of Product Marketing & Analytics, ixigo.
He said that average airfares have risen by 20-30% this year on popular metro routes due to rise in oil prices.
However, Bajoria said that rising airfares have slowed down the recovery of some sectors like flights which were at 75-80% of pre-COVID levels at the end of the last financial year and are taking more time to recover because of high airfares and capacity issues.
With New Year’s eve around the corner, airfares are expected to surge again.
“Airfares are expected to surge again for Christmas and New Year holidays. Airfares for travel during the last week of December this year are higher by 25-30% on some routes as compared to the same time last year,” said Bajoria.
Work from anywhere to spiritual breaks: Trends that dominated travel
In India’s travel industry, Bajoria said that 2022 was also the bucket list year.
“Travelers are showcasing a desire to experience new destinations and tick off destinations from their travel bucket lists that were on hold for a long time. Travellers are also keen on bigger, grander and more adventurous escapes,” he said.
Cleartrip also released a campaign with Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal to encourage consumers to fulfil their bucket lists.
Fuelled by the pandemic, work from anywhere trend also continued in 2022.
“The growing prominence in hybrid working is pushing the demand for weekend getaways and weeklong stays and staycations. In fact, consumers are wanting homestays with workstations and requisite facilities so that they can work while being on a vacation,” said Gupta.
Travellers also looked for unusual destinations to break away from their monotonous life.
“In 2022, there was also a significant rise in preference for different, unexplored destinations and road trips to tourist destinations in close proximity. Additionally, short weekend getaways and leisure travel offering wellness and self-care relaxation activities also witnessed a spike in demand,” said Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip.
Leisure tourism also gained popularity this year.
“As per our World Tourism Day report 2022, January 2022 to September 2022 highlights a 62% uptick in leisure tourism as compared to the last year,” said Sheerang Godbole, Global Chief Service Officer, OYO.
To make the most of this uptick in sentiment, brands also upped their marketing activities.
Consumer trends that inspired marketing ideas
After the pandemic, travel brands pushed consumers to bring the thrill back into their lives by travelling to their favourite destinations. MakeMyTrip released a campaign that showed how breaking free from a mundane life during the pandemic can bring back the thrill into one’s life.
2022 was also a year of sports. Boooking.com released a campaign to target cricket fans. A father and son duo travels to Australia to bond over their shared love for the sport.
Communication also saw a shift from desire to safety. It was focused on resilience, empathy and reassurance. While messages revolved around fulfilling bucket lists and travelling for fun, safety was at the centre of the campaigns.
Brands also encouraged online booking behaviour by releasing campaigns during the festive season.
As per a report by Booking.com, 94% of Indian travellers think that sustainable travel is very important, and 68% of them cited that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices.
Ergo, sustainable travel also became a trend. Luggage brand Samsonite launched sustainable luggage for its eco-conscious consumers.
Hottest marketing mediums
According to ROI agency Zenith, travel advertising expanded by 24% in 13 key markets in 2021, whereas the forecast for 2022 and 2023 is pegged at a growth of 36% and 19% respectively.
Pittie said that 2022 has been more of implementing experiential marketing strategies.
“Brand positioning in a unique way and offering innovative experiences so that consumers can have a better understanding of the offerings which was the prime focus of the industry players. Additionally, with digitization on a rise, contactless services such as keyless doors, QR code menus, etc. are the go-to ways for hotels to offer high-end experiences to their customers. In fact, robot concierge is now seen serving the customers. Today, people can avail room service or spa sessions through a tap on their smartphones with the help of IoT enabled smart rooms,” said Pittie.
“Social media is changing the rules of engagement and marketing from traditional ways to modern marketing strategies, making it relevant for modern-day consumers. The key buzz words that saw a rise in traction in 2022 were sustainability, wellness, mindfulness, bucket list, revenge travel, bleisure travel, and wanderlust,” said Gupta.
As per Bajoria, short-form video content continues to be the best medium to raise brand awareness and and maximising reach to younger markets. “From a travel brand point of view, the narrative is to ride on the excitement that the world is open for travel again and encouraging users to make the most of the current environment. This was our aim with our recent brand campaign #NikalLo with an emphasis that travel is back with a bang this year and to maximise awareness around ixigo ahead of the festive season.”
He also noticed that more travellers are becoming eco-conscious. Travellers are becoming mindful of their carbon footprint and are opting for eco-friendly choices when it comes to different aspects of their vacations.
“Sustainability in the airline industry is the latest trend in travel and is here to stay and it is the collective duty of all industry players to realise this norm and make efforts towards collective action for responsible tourism,” added Bajoria.
As we enter 2023, Zenith’s report predicts that 70% of travel brands budgets will be spent on digital mediums in 2023 and 6% year-over-year recovery pegged for OOH ad spends till 2023. It further says that 31% growth in travel ads to be witnessed in India, whereas it could be 16% growth in China.
Hopes remain high for the busiest days of 2022, which are yet to arrive
According to credit rating agency CARE Ratings, FY22 has been a promising year for the sector wherein the revival in the occupancy and RevPAR has led to green shoots for the industry players.
It is expected that revenues will touch the $14.92 billion mark by the year’s end. Packaged holiday has been the largest segment until now valued at $6.68 billion. With the market growing significantly, it is expected that the market will end up surpassing 2019 levels next year.
“The upcoming year will see pent-up demand in solo, cultural, business, and leisure travel among others. People have travelled to several scenic beaches, ancient temples and royal places. Nowadays, Indian travellers are heading towards practising yoga, self-care and meditation. As per our study, Varanasi, Tirupati, Amritsar, Shirdi and Puri witnessed maximum booking demand for cultural tourism,” said Godbole of OYO.
This year, Cleartrip witnessed a 105% growth in CY22 and saw a 1.5x jump in market share.
“From a hotels standpoint, we are seeing 2x in bookings for the week of Christmas and New Years specifically, and this trend is still continuing. This spike is fueled by leisure destinations, with Goa leading the trend. One other aspect we are seeing is a very high demand for hill destinations as a cohort, which generally during this period sees a slight decrease. In flights, most carriers will operate at 90 to 95% full capacity during the last week of December 2022,” said Cleartrip’s spokesperson.
New Year’s Eve is a busy time for the travel industry. As per EaseMyTrip’s Pittie, Q3 is one of the best periods for the platform as far as sales are concerned.
So, India’s travel industry have now lined up special packages, experiences and deals to attract more customers and gain better sales.
Social Throwback is Social Samosa’s marquee editorial property that recaps the important happenings of the industry from the year that went by. You can catch up with 2022 here.