Travel trends could quite possibly be experiencing the most volatile years in history. First, the impact of COVID-19 significantly slashed most travel in 2020 for well over a year. When travel opened back up in 2021, the pendulum swung the other way as travelers set out on “revenge travel”. This unprecedented desire to return to travel was welcome news for airlines, hotels and other companies in the travel space, many of whom had their worst year on record in 2020.
As part of the revenge travel trend, the popularity of outdoor adventures, road trips and vacation rentals soared – all of which catered to the desire for a more private, serene and safe way to vacation with family and friends.
As prices rise, there is a distinct difference in the responses between the Haves and the Have Nots. The Haves continue to spend and enjoy products and services as they are able to absorb the inflationary prices with little change to their lifestyle. The Have Nots, on the other hand, are pulling back on spending aggressively as they feel the pinch of higher prices for virtually everything and concern that the economy will worsen.
But despite the high prices, many Americans are continuing with their travel plans. According to a recent Vacasa study, 63% of Americans plan to get away for a summer vacation and that percent is even higher for those who work remotely or have a hybrid format.
Consumer Travel Spending Trends
Coming into the summer, those consumers who still plan to travel have made a few modifications to their plans:
Travelers are keeping their spending totals flat while reallocating dollars away from expensive restaurants and luxurious accommodations in favor of filling the gas tank and packing a lunch
Road trips will be shorter distances, with more travelers exploring locally
Outdoor experiences still reign, with more travelers seeking adventures closer to home. Waterfront escapes and National Parks are popular destinations for Summer
Sustainability is a focus, with travelers choosing eco-friendly trips and adventures to minimize their environmental impact
The Surge in Outdoor Adventure Travel
Outdoor adventure focused travel has skyrocketed in popularity since the pandemic and has become an important part of the recovery of the travel sector. Not only does the outdoors provide travelers with open air, socially distant adventures, but spending time in nature also has a plethora of health benefits, and can help travelers meet their sustainability focus.
When gyms and yoga studios shut their doors in 2020, Americans turned to the outdoors to get exercise, beat stress and explore new places. Nature has now become an important part of many people’s lives. A study by the Outdoor Foundation found that 53% of Americans participated in an outdoor activity in 2020, an increase of 7 million more Americans than the year prior. And according to The Dyrt, 20% of Americans went camping in 2021 (including 8.3 million first-time campers) with ‘time outdoors’, ‘the pandemic’ and ‘family and friends’ being key drivers.
With the 10 fastest growing experience categories on Viator related to outdoor activities, this type of adventure travel will continue to be a priority for travelers, even if they have to pay a bit more this year.
Managing a Thriving Adventure Travel Businesses
Many adventure travel businesses have seen their business increase significantly since the pandemic and this has resulted in demand for better tools to better manage their business. Online booking software is one of the best ways to reduce tasking in the shop and improve both customer and employee satisfaction. Plus, bookings can be received 24/7 – even while you sleep! There are lots more benefits of online booking software, and some really great options out there to help manage an outdoor adventure business. The same goes for e-commerce solutions – ensuring inventory is online for customers to purchase will help adventure travel businesses to succeed.
With many more people getting outdoors and exploring, it also becomes important to educate customers around Leave No Trace principles. Many newcomers to the outdoors may not know about the importance of Leave No Trace, and we are seeing the unfortunate impact of this throughout our National Parks and natural places. Adventure travel businesses are on the front lines of the industry and are oftentimes the last interaction enthusiasts have before heading out for an adventure. This makes it imperative for adventure travel companies to provide education on Leave No Trace, so we can help ensure our natural places remain pristine for generations to come.
Looking for more growth strategies? Bluestock Advisors can help – whether it’s advanced analytics, strategy mapping or retail operations, Bluestock has a great depth of experience to support your journey. We’d love to hear from you!
By Julie & Reet Singh