Global Hotel Alliance reveals five global travel trends for 2023

UAE-headquartered Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), an alliance of independent hotel brands, has identified five global travel trends for 2023.

A recent survey of its GHA Discovery loyalty program members revealed travel sentiment for the year ahead is extremely positive, with most respondents being comfortable with the thought of traveling internationally. Members are more likely to travel for leisure than business next year, with some planning up to six getaways.

Japan has emerged as the preferred country to visit in 2023, named on top of all leisure travel hotspots, although the majority of members plan to travel mostly within their own regions. The U.S., Oceania and Thailand round out the other top destinations. The chance to “see and experience new things” is the main travel motivation as well as the chance to spend time with family and friends, while cities are the most desirable holiday hotspots for 2023, followed by beach destinations.

Location, price and loyalty program are the top three factors influencing hotel and accommodation choices next year, while discounts and savings, as well as perks such as room upgrades, all of which are core benefits of the GHA Discovery program, are crucial to enriching their hotel experience.

“Trends revealed in our survey paint a very positive picture for leisure travel in 2023, with our members signaling an overwhelming desire to globetrot, try new experiences and connect with family and friends, building on the momentum of this past year,” said Kristi Gole, VP, GHA. “The results are particularly encouraging against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty and with members telling us value for money and loyalty program benefits are now most influencing their hotel booking decisions.

Here are the top five global travel trends for 2023:

Longing for leisure, with up to six trips planned
Travel sentiment is extremely positive with more than half of respondents in every market comfortable with the thought of traveling internationally in 2023. The most bullish markets are the U.K. with 85% of member respondents intending to travel internationally followed by the UAE and Singapore with 83% and 81% respectively. Across all countries, members are more likely to travel for leisure than business next year, planning on average between four and six leisure trips versus two to four business trips. In terms of frequency of trips, members from China and Germany expect to travel the most next year, with 6.1 and 5.9 leisure trips as well as 4.8 and 4.5 business trips anticipated respectively.

Japan surprises, regional travel dominates
Japan has emerged as a preferred country to visit in 2023, named in the top four leisure travel hotspots by members across countries globally. Members plan to mainly travel within their own regions again next year, particularly those based in China, most likely due to ongoing travel restrictions, as well as Singapore, Thailand, the U.S. and the UAE. Australians are remaining in Oceania for business, but heading to Asia for leisure; members from the U.K. and Malaysia are looking to Europe for business trips and Asia for vacations; Canadians are favoring Europe for business but North America for leisure; and Germans prefer North America for business visits and Europe for holidays.

Experiences count, as does family time in buzzing cities
When asked what they were most looking forward to when traveling for leisure in 2023, members in every market said “seeing and experiencing new things,” with “spending time with family and friends” the second most popular response. Not many plan to travel with pets, but Europe is the region most comfortable with that. Members from most countries plan to travel with a “spouse or partner” or “immediate family” and show a clear preference for cities—the preferred location for leisure trips for members followed by beach/tropical destinations.

Mountain and countryside locations were on their travel radar, but not as popular
Specific destinations favored globally include cities such as Tokyo, Bangkok, London, Paris and Singapore, while Chinese members favor Beijing, Shanghai and Sanya. Countries like the Maldives, Switzerland, Bali, Canada, Spain and Australia also stood out. Within the U.S., California, New York and Hawaii were favorites.

Location, location, location—and value
Location and price will be the top two factors influencing hotel and accommodation choices in 2023, indicating that travelers from most markets are value-conscious. Hotel loyalty programs were named the third most important factor impacting decision-making. Quality of accommodation is also in the mix, ranked highly by members from the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia and UAE when selecting properties for leisure stays next year.

A love for loyalty
Staying with the loyalty theme, across all regions respondents prefer to use hotel loyalty program channels to research accommodation choices, more so than online travel agents or brands’ or hotels’ own websites, and see the loyalty program as a close second for preferred booking channel after the hotel’s direct website.

When asked ‘If you are a member of a hotel’s loyalty program, what is most important to you regarding your hotel experience?” members named discounts or savings as the most important aspect, followed by hotel benefits such as a room upgrade.