In this second post of the series we look at the state of business travel, how the luxury hotel segment is faring, the rise of alternative lodging, and which regions are leading the way when it comes to the resurgent demand for travel.
To catch up on our first three trends, which included inflation, expenditure on experiences and the industry's COVID hangover, click here and read on to see the four remaining hospitality and travel trends shaping 2023.
Another sector hugely impacted both in the short- and long-term by the pandemic was business travel.
The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector was cut at a stroke by lockdowns and huge growth in video conferencing changed the face of work forever. So, can we expect a comeback in 2023 or is the age of the face-to-face meeting over?
Once again, it’s an upwards trajectory, with our indicators pointing to continued positive growth, as are other industry bodies.
Extracting GDS searches, which are a critical business travel booking route, there is a clear trend line of growing searches, and therefore demand throughout the last two years that shows no signs of stopping as we head into 2023.
During peak season for MICE travel in mid-2022 search volumes for London and Seoul were 40 to 60 times what they were at the beginning of 2021, although this is coming from a very depressed base.
GDS hotel searches in major business travel destination, 2021 - 2022
Nonetheless, it indicates a return for businesses to booking travel and a vote of confidence in making face-to-face appointments.
Averaging out search demand trends across this selection of cities displays a clear and consistent upwards trend throughout the period, and as we close 2022, search volumes are at the highest level seen since the start of the global pandemic.
We are not alone in this analysis, as American Express’ 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast expects broad-based growth in global spend for business travel, rising by 3.1% globally. Once again North America is expected to be the most buoyant region, with growth in spend predicted to hit 3.8%.
Another area where North America, and the US specifically, is a market leader is in the vacation rental sector. Here reservations soared above pre-pandemic levels in 2022 according to our data.
As we closed out the year, demand in the country spiked to the point where double the reservations were made in the first week of December 2022 as compared to 2019, and over the last year only Latin America exceeded North America for reservation growth.
Weekly variation in US holiday rental reservations, 2019 versus 2022
While this comparative lead with other regions has narrowed across the year, and we predict that 2023 will be an extremely strong year for rental booking growth globally, the US is likely to continue to be one of the best performing markets.
Using a snapshot of 10 major metro markets in the US, we can see continued strength in pricing in the first half of 2023, which reflects strong demand and booking pace.
Only Miami and Orlando fail to consistently increase in price throughout 2023, which may reflect high seasonality in these destinations, and therefore it seems like the US rental market will enter 2023 as it concluded 2022.
Average price for holiday rentals in 10 major US cities across H1 2023
While there is a raft of positive news for the travel industry, we can’t ignore that there are some storm clouds on the horizon. As we have noted, incomes are stagnant or falling for the average consumer as we close 2022.
While the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects that a third of the global economy will be in recession in 2023.
A sector that is much more insulated against these risks is the luxury sector, as wealthier consumers are less sensitive to economic shocks, with a better cushion against issues like high inflation.
Pricing comparison for five-star hotels and three star-hotels in H1 2023 compared to H1 2019
Therefore, another trend we can expect to continue into 2023 is that high-end hotels will outperform the market.
Five-star hotels show higher price growth in H1 2023 when compared to 2019 than for one- to three-star hotels. For the former, nominal prices posted in H1 2023 are 22-23% up from 2019 levels, whereas their less luxurious counterparts are advertising rates 14-15% above pre-pandemic levels.
Looking across our data there are a few mega trends to pick out. First is that the Asia market looks like it has the weakest outlook in 2023, while the US is potentially the strongest major economy from a tourism perspective.
Aggregating and averaging pricing across regions, we can see that Q1 2023 hotel price growth for Asia from the same period in 2019 falls far behind any other region, and that North America slightly leads Europe.
Ahead of all of these are Oceania, reinforcing how a strong pandemic response has helped the region return to growth, and the Middle East and North Africa region, home to many luxury holiday destinations.
Changes in prices for hotels in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2019 split by world region
This growth underlines how the top end of the market presents the strongest demand segment in 2023.
Looking at our top 10 destinations for price growth in Q1 2023, that trend continues, with many resorts catering to long-distance travellers being represented. These include Maui, Sharm El Sheikh, Palm Beach and Los Cabos.
Top 10 pricing growth leaders in Q1 2023
That summarises our seven key trends for 2023. Taking them into account and using them to influence your commercial strategy makes long-term sense this year. If you need help in doing this, then we are here to give you advice and set you up for success.
If you want to dive into the data for your market and find out how demand and pricing is shaping up, take a free trial here.