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November 12, 2021

As we move toward 2022—after nearly two years of unprecedented challenges and shifts in the travel landscape—about the only thing we can say definitively is that change is here for good. But change is good, because it forces us to constantly reconsider everything about what travelers desire, what will move them, and what they need from our industry.

Below are some of the key trends we’re seeing as the pandemic continues to wane (we hope) and travel continues to rise. Some of these trends are new, and some have been evolving since the first signs of COVID or even before, but all can help your property thrive in the new year.

An experiential approach to travel
This is beyond the realm of mere trends—the idea of fully immersing yourself in a location, doing rather than simply staying, isn’t going anywhere. Does your property create an atmosphere where guests have opportunities to explore the community, take part in authentic local experiences, and perhaps most important, gain an appreciation for the history and culture of the area? Those aren’t “nice-to-haves” any longer; they’re essential.

Feeling nostalgic—and seizing the opportunity
The desire for adventure hasn’t been dulled during COVID; if anything, the drive to explore has been intensified. Travelers are planning their trips of a lifetime now—either because they are tired of waiting or they have a new perspective on life. What’s more, people also are searching for comfort, a return to the way things once were. Don’t be afraid to take them there, with bonus points for making them feel like a kid again.

Seeking sustainability
Yes, it’s been “trendy” for years, at least for some people—but sustainability has taken on a new importance for many. Similar to consumers who want to do business with companies that treat their employees well, the vast majority of travelers want to travel more sustainably (doing things such as reducing their carbon footprint) while also helping to sustain communities by supporting local businesses at their destinations. Are you making it easy for them to do that?

A bigger appetite for culinary exploration
As people remained at home, they became more adventurous—with online cooking courses and fun trends (anyone else start making their own sourdough in 2020/2021?) leading to renewed interest in unique culinary experiences. Now that the world has opened up again, travelers are actively looking for dining options that feature twists such as ingredients grown on site, private dinners featuring items foraged by diners earlier that day, and more.

Finding a better way to wellness
Healing from within has become not only a trend, but an accepted piece of the overall health and wellness puzzle—overall well-being continues to be top of mind for travelers, with a renewed focus on cultivating self-love and self-worth. This has extended from fitness activities (in-room Tonal and other systems that meet guests where they are courtesy of Andaz Scottsdale) to spa rituals and treatments (smudging, “burden bundles,” at Alila), along with innovative ideas like a “wellness concierge” to provide guidance throughout the stay. Many properties also are adding nature-design elements that create a sense of relaxation, energy, and wellness, including lushly landscaped rooftop bars, indoor spaces with plenty of natural light, and others.

Taking a liking to travel pods
During the pandemic, people began creating “travel pods”—small groups of friends and family members with whom they feel safe exploring. There are a wealth of opportunities here, especially while properties wait for full group business and events to come back in a meaningful way. What offers can you create for these smaller groups that are committed to traveling? From generational travel reunions to celebrations with friends, travelers are ready to spend time and money in the places that will help them build unique memories.