Expedia Group reveals unexpected travel trends for 2023

Expedia Group, which owns popular travel sites Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo, has unveiled some unexpected travel trends for 2023, which the company is calling “not normal” rather than the “new normal” of travel.

“We’re seeing a rise in travel to Capitals of Culture, a new wave of interest in wellness retreats, and a rising demand for outdoor destinations beyond beaches and mountains – not a new normal, but people embracing unexpected trends in what we do do, let in. They call it ‘not normal,'” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands, in a statement.

The “No Normal” study was conducted from September 22 to October 14 through an online survey of 24,000 adults from 17 countries planning domestic or international travel in the next 36 months.

“Travelling in 2023 is about saying ‘no’ to the normal, breaking routines and seeking experiences without compromise,” according to Expedia Group’s findings. “Whether it’s flying to those one-off events or hosting group celebrations at a vacation home, travelers are no longer adjusting to the next new normal, but creating their own status quo overall.”

Additionally, travelers are choosing options that “are aligned with their personal values,” particularly in terms of sustainability, inclusivity, and accessibility.

London, United Kingdom (provided by Expedia Group/Matt Cooper)

‘Set-Jetters’ Inspired by TV Shows and Movies

According to Expedia Group, travelers will look to entertainment for inspiration for their travels in 2023.

The study found that streaming movies and TV shows are becoming increasingly popular sources of travel inspiration at 22 percent, making them as influential for travelers as recommendations from friends and family. The most popular source of travel inspiration is social media at 30 percent.

Of Canadian travelers in particular, 60 percent have considered visiting a destination featured in a show or film on a streaming platform, with 27 percent actually booking the trip.

The top destinations are Great Britain and New Zealand.

Edinburgh City in Winter from Calton Hill, Scotland, UK

Edinburgh City in Winter from Calton Hill, Scotland, UK

Cities are becoming popular again

During the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor venues and more remote, expansive travel destinations have become increasingly popular.

Now that many COVID-19 restrictions around the world have been eased, inner cities are becoming popular again.

Based on traveler demand, Expedia Group found that most of the destinations with the biggest increases are “culture-rich cities where arts and culture festivals are back in full swing.”

The most popular destinations are:

  • Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Lisbon, Portugal

  • Tokyo, Japan

  • Dublin, Ireland

  • New York, United States

  • Sydney, Australia

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  • Montreal, Canada

  • Munich, Germany

  • Bangkok, Thailand

Mama Shelter Paris West

Mama Shelter Paris West

“Three Star Superstars”

41 percent of Canadian travelers admitted they are more concerned than ever about the value of their trips. The study found that 28 percent of Canadian respondents plan to stay in one- to three-star hotels, with 60 percent planning to book with included amenities like free breakfast and toiletries.

“Showing a mindset shift from the post-pandemic bucket-list mentality to a more spontaneous approach, a [traveller] would rather do more trips in three-star hotels than splurge on a big luxury vacation,” according to information from Expedia Group.

Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel in Switzerland (Provided by Expedia Group)

Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel in Switzerland (Provided by Expedia Group)

Bored with traditional wellness retreats

Of Canadian Expedia Group respondents, 45 percent said they were more open to “wellness breaks” than before, but said they were bored with “traditional wellness retreats” and were looking for something more exciting.

Hotels like the Loire Valley Lodge in France and Whitepod in Switzerland offer hands-on activities that encourage travelers to get closer to nature. Activities like forest bathing and fruit picking are more popular than classic wellness retreat activities.

Gallatin Gateway, Montana (Provided by Expedia Group)

Gallatin Gateway, Montana (Provided by Expedia Group)

Find hidden treasures

Looking ahead to the trends for 2023, travelers want to discover more “hidden gems”.

Demand for Vrbo vacation rentals in each of the following Canadian destinations has increased by 30% or more since September 2021:

  • Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

  • Chaudiere, Quebec

  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

  • Canmore, Alberta

  • Calgary, Alberta

  • Prince Edward County, Ontario

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba

  • Quebec City, Quebec

  • Cowichan Valley, British Columbia

  • Saanich, British Columbia

Rustic escapes are on the rise, including ranch retreats where travelers can “live out” their Western fantasies in a vacation home rental, including in destinations like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada. For a European twist, travelers book barn and farmhouse conversions in the countryside of Italy, Spain, France and the UK. Adventurous travelers rent farmhouses in the Australian outback.

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