There’s a lot of optimism for travel moving into the year. Convention center bookings are pacing 13% over 2022, alongside predictions for double-digit growth in group demand for hotels this year, according to Ryan Meliker, president and co-founder of Lodging Analytics Research & Consulting.
One of my favorite parts of kicking off the year is getting ready for all of the in-person tradeshows to reconnect with industry peers, discuss the pressing issues for our industries, attending sessions and of course, planning upcoming travel and booking stays. We have 50+ global events that my team is already committed to attend, exhibit, sponsor and connect. It’s great to see the excitement and themes around these conferences.
Before hopping on a plane to the NMHC Annual meeting (my first official event stop this year), I thought it was fitting to highlight the top travel trends I’ll be watching:
1. Mullet Travel
This hilarious new term (aka professional in the front and party in the back), coined by Wall Street Journal editor Jacob Passy, will continue its importance this year as people blend travel and work more and more. Skift Research estimates that digital nomads could be a $1B new market in the U.S. alone. Many countries are supporting digital nomads and remote workers, as seen through Spain’s digital nomad visa program expected to launch this month. Italy, Greece, Croatia and Portugal have also offered similar programs. Hotels, extended stays and long-term multi-tenant rentals can focus on “work from anywhere” by providing strong Wi-Fi, coworking areas or programs and lots of outlets for tech gadgets. Beyond the bar, food & beverage and spa perks, the working perks round out a complete trip for these types of guests.
“How can you make little decisions that add up over time and have a positive impact on the world?'” Kelley Louise, the executive director and founder of Impact Travel Alliance, a nonprofit centered on informing travelers to help improve the world, told Insider.
While last year was a focus on fun and escaping from lockdowns, this year will be about longer-lasting impacts. AHLA, for example, launched the ‘Responsible Stay’ Sustainability Initiative that focuses on energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, and responsible sourcing practices. Combining work and personal travel (as we discussed previously), cutting back on baggage, declining daily housekeeping, renting/sharing equipment and other gear and shopping locally for example, people are looking to make a difference with their travel choices.
The brands are on board as seen from recent new commentary, with Pat Pacious, CEO, Choice Hotels International, in Hotel Management saying:
“Choice Hotels International, Inc. is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and proudly supports AHLA’s Responsible Stay…More than a decade ago, Choice launched Room to be Green®, a program that promotes environmentally friendly practices throughout our hotel system and corporate offices. As the program continues to evolve and we look to further enhance our commitment to sustainability, we’re excited about the launch of ‘Responsible Stay.”
We will see more companies in our industry announcing their commitments to ESG programs this year.
After all of the conferences, “team on-sites/off-sites” and other business trips, we all still need a break. While Staycations over the last couple of years were due to safety concerns, increased prices for flights, food and cost of living in general will push people to choose destinations closer to home. A survey found that “more than four in five (84%) say they are likely to go on a staycation in 2023 with over half (56%) of those saying that the cost-of-living crisis would steer them towards a staycation over a holiday abroad.”
As we get back on the road, let’s remember to be kind to our hospitality workers. Hotel associates are still stretched thin while trying to keep up with this revitalized demand for travel. Safe travels, and here’s to a busy, sustainable and fun year of travel.
Mike Womack is vice president of partner sales – the Americas at Nomadix, a multi-tenant connectivity provider, enabling more than 5 million daily internet connections in over 150 countries.