Traveller behaviour shaping travel trends
The mood today is shifting from one of hopeful uncertainty to bold adaptability
Travel is back, but where is it headed? Travellers today are more open to new experiences, greater prospects and alternative ways of living and travelling. People around the world are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about travelling now as compared to 2022, with nearly 72 per cent of Indians stating that travelling will always be worth it. We are seeing travellers booking their vacations further in advance than we saw during the pandemic and hunting for good deals and prices, while at the same time not trading down on their travel plans. The mood today is shifting from one of hopeful uncertainty to bold adaptability.
With rising inflation, urgent concerns about climate change and dramatic changes in the travel landscape, travellers are also moving in a lot of different directions to adapt to the changing times. It is also influencing their travel decisions and we are seeing how these new behaviours are driving travel trends.
Spirituality and relaxation
As travel restrictions are becoming a thing of the past, the urge to travel has increased significantly. People are prioritising their mental and spiritual health, with nearly 70 per cent of Indian travellers seeking a spiritual stay including meditation and 63 per cent looking at silent retreats. Moreover, the Government of India through various initiatives and investments including the PRASAD scheme and the Swadesh Darshan Scheme amongst others have improved connectivity and infrastructure, bringing about enhanced experiences that are further fueling this trend. From showing their gratitude for good health to wanting to rejuvenate and break away from their stressful lives, people are visiting several spiritual places across India including the likes of Varanasi, Rishikesh, Amritsar and Puri. Travellers are vying for that trip that will take them on a journey far from home, but closer to their soul.
Almost 95 per cent of Indian travellers this year are looking to explore nostalgic getaways, that provide the thrill of reliving the glory days and go back to simpler times. The “good ol’ days” or the pre-digital era is now a glamorous escape from reality, with even millennials and Gen-Zs looking for experiences that evoke memories of the days gone by, such as visiting landmarks and monuments featured in vintage films or opting for a bus as a mode of transport to relieve the feeling of school trips. Travellers are no longer forfeiting play in favour of rest but are increasingly seeking the adrenaline rush of theme parks, focusing on family reunion focussed vacations or planning activities like escape rooms, scavenger hunt or building fortresses from giant blocks.
With growing awareness by travellers on the impact of their trips - from carbon footprint to plastic waste and the need for environmental conservation - travellers are making greater efforts to be more mindful of their travel impact at every step of their journey. From carrying their own reusable bags and bottles, to sharing rides, choosing local restaurants to eat at, opting for nature-related activities and following the ‘buy local’ ideology on vacation, Indians are taking several sustainability related actions as their environment consciousness grows. According to the Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report 2023, 51 per cent of Indian travellers carry their personal, reusable water bottle, 55 per cent travellers reuse their towels multiple times and 66 per cent turn off the AC when they aren’t there.
Return to basics
Travel is rapidly becoming a way to truly escape from boring reality and gloomy news feeds. While on vacation before, travellers would be happy to be connected to the news back home, today it is hardly a vacation if one is accessible to one’s colleagues and friends! More travellers are choosing to go off-grid, and this is a trend we will continue to see, as 64 per cent of Indian travellers want to return to the basic necessities. Off-grid accommodation and homestays are an easy and welcome escape from city life – but you don’t need to rough it out! There are plenty of options that combine the luxury of being off grid with the finest in accommodation and service.
Embracing ‘real life’ work travel
The pandemic allowed businesses to see the positive impact that remote working could have, which led to many employers embracing a ‘work from anywhere’ approach. While employees have enjoyed going to the beach during their lunch hour or working on their laptops by the pool, working while travelling trends are changing now with nearly 75 per cent of Indians preferring their trips to be strictly work-free. They are open to work trips but they do not want to work on their holidays. Even with business travel, unlike before, it is now about incorporating work travel with productive play. Employees now see this as an opportunity to build and strengthen team relations and connect with one another in real life, away from the office.
With the clear shift in traveller’s behaviour, the travel industry will have to adapt in order to meet their changing expectations. At the same time, it also presents a big opportunity for companies and destinations to collaborate and create a seamless experience for customers who are looking to travel and explore the world once again, even more so than before.
* Figures based on Booking.com’s Travel Confidence Index 2023 and Sustainable Travel Report 2023
Author Bio: Santosh Kumar is Country Manager, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives & Indonesia at Booking.com
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BW HOTELIER - SMART & SUSTAINABLE SPECIAL'
Around The World