A renewed sense of optimism among Thai travellers fuels a desire to embrace the new normal and return to the world in the year ahead.
Bangkok, Thailand - Along with practically every aspect of our lives, the course of travel has been redefined repeatedly over the past year and a half, with seismic shifts propelling us towards a continuously evolving version of the ‘new normal.’ And while COVID-19 is not yet in the rearview mirror, an indefatigable sense of hope is beginning to take its place.
2022 will be the year to make the most of unpredictability and start making up for lost vacation time in a big way, with the number of travellers who feel they need to do so having increased by 52% since last year*. Booking.com’s predictions1 reveal how people will be reigniting the travel spark in the upcoming year. It’s all about seizing the day in 2022 and making every trip matter.
More so than daily exercise or mindful meditation, getting away on vacation will become THE form of self-care in 2022, with almost of Thai travellers (86%) affirming that travel helps their mental and emotional wellbeing more than other forms of rest and relaxation. After more than a year of ever-evolving travel restrictions, the important benefits that travel has on health and wellbeing are now being acknowledged, with nearly two thirds (62%) saying they didn’t realize how important travel was to their wellbeing until it was no longer an option, and 89% saying that having a vacation planned has a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing.
Resetting the Out Of (Home) Office
When the pandemic hit, homes across the globe became our offices too, and the novelty of working remotely was realized. However, in 2022 we’ll see a significant rise in people wanting to take back control in a bid to firmly re-establish a healthy work-life balance as vacation time itself will be strictly work-free for three-quarters of travellers (76%) in 2022, which wasn’t always the case in 2021 with home and remote work lives blurred.
Despite the flexibility to work remotely, 50% of people would rather spend less time on vacation if it meant they could completely switch off in 2022 vs. spending more time in the destination but having to mix business and leisure.
All the First-Time Feels
Remember what it was like to board a plane for the very first time? Or even just to check into a hotel? After feeling ‘stuck’ for so long, rather than rushing through the journey, travellers will be relishing every moment, from fine-tuning the playlist for the rental car to browsing the delicacies duty-free has to offer. The formerly mundane daydreaming out the train window as the scenery whizzes by or getting lost in a maze of winding cobblestone streets to pick up the keys for your vacation apartment will be sheer bliss for 80% of people who say travel is more enjoyable when the journey feels like part of the trip itself.
Each ‘first’ of our trips in 2022 will be a moment to savour, with a majority of travellers saying that simple pleasures such as feeling the sun on their skin (69%) or seeing a body of water of some kind instantly improves their mood for the better (91%). While 80% of travellers say they’ll enjoy the uncertainty of navigating public transportation in a new city using a foreign language.
In 2022, this desire to connect authentically with the local community will continue on vacation too, as we seek to be more mindful about every trip we take and ensure our impact on the places we visit and the people who live there is positive.
With 74% of Thai people agree it’s important that their trip is beneficial to the local community at their destination and 82% would appreciate an app or website that provides recommendations on destinations where an increase in tourism would have a positive impact on the local community. Furthermore, 85%3 want the money that they spend when travelling to go back to the local community and 85%3 want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture.
Swipe Right on New Places and Faces
For many, the pandemic meant spending an extended and intense period with our closest friends and loved ones, but vacations in 2022 will be an opportunity to branch out and make some new connections. As 76% of Thais want to meet new people while away, we expect to see travellers using their vacations as an opportunity to expand their usual social circles, with 81% of Thai travellers looking forward to socializing while on vacation and 74% wanting to stay somewhere close to plenty of nightlife options so that they can meet new people.
Tired of swiping through the same faces for the past year and a half, people will also be making use of their favourite dating apps while on vacay in 2022 with travel providing an exciting opportunity to find love. We predict a resurgence of holiday romances, with 75% are hoping for one on their next trip.
Just Say Yes
After so long of being told “no” travellers are reclaiming a more positive way of thinking for 2022. In fact, 69% will be shirking all of the structure they’ve been contending with, preferring a vacation where they stay flexible and just go with the flow vs. having a well-planned itinerary full of activities. The coming year will bring the very best of improv to travel, with us responding to each unexpected twist and turn in the trip with an emphatic “yes, and…”. When it comes to travel buddies, they’ll be looking for those that “just say yes” as well, with over half (55%) of travellers are looking to travel with those who are also happy to go with the flow.
To that end, 83% agree they will say yes to any vacation opportunity if the budget allows. And for the 59% that have been saving their pennies by not taking any big trips since the pandemic started, money is no object for the trips they will take in 2022. While 77% of travellers are more open to different types of vacation than before the pandemic.
In 2022, tech will play a key role in supporting spontaneity with increased optionality to book on the go and the flexibility to adapt plans and follow where the adventure leads. In fact, 75% of travellers are looking to the latest travel technology innovations to offer a ‘wildcard’ or surprise option of a completely new travel experience that’s suggested based on their past preferences or budget to help them seize every new potential opportunity.
Embracing the Unpredictable
Uncertainty will continue to be a constant in travel in 2022, and while we cannot change or predict every new surprise and challenge that fate has in store for us, we will embrace it. Having leaned on technology in a variety of ways to stay connected and inspired over the past year and a half, our favourite apps will continue to help us navigate the unknown on our trips, with 83% of travellers agreeing that technology helps alleviate the anxiety around travelling. We expect to see even wider adoption of predictive technologies which can help travellers make more informed decisions, especially considering that 83% of travellers would be interested in an innovative service that could predict which countries will be safe to travel to, even months in advance, or automatically suggest destinations which are easy to travel to now based on their country’s and the destination’s current COVID-19 requirements (85%).
No matter how accurate any machine learning predictions might be, in order for everyone to truly embrace our new unpredictable normal, the broader travel industry will continue to prioritize flexibility, as travellers rank reassurance that they won’t lose money (33%), the ability to cancel (27%) and ability reschedule free of charge (32%) as the top three most important priorities.
Michelle Gao, Regional Manager, Mekong Region, at Booking.com said “As we look ahead to the coming year, we see a lot of excitement and anticipation for people to return to travel, whether it's domestically, internationally, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, or simply saying yes to whatever travel opportunity comes their way, and it's our mission to make it easier for everyone to do just that. We will be there for travellers, providing the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience from anywhere and on any device so that people can reclaim their travel mojo and enjoy all of the unforgettable experiences this world has to offer.”
*63% vs 42% from same time last year2
1 Travel Predictions 2022 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,055 respondents across 31 countries and territories were polled (including 501 from Argentina, 1003 from Australia, 500 from Belgium, 1001 from Brazil, 500 from Canada, 1000 from China, 1007 from Colombia, 1001 from Croatia, 508 from Denmark, 1002 from France, 1000 from Germany, 1005 from Hong Kong, 1000 from India, 502 from Israel, 1003 from Italy, 1002 from Japan, 500 from Mexico, 501 from The Netherlands, 501 from New Zealand, 500 from Peru, 1000 from Russia, 1005 from Singapore, 1002 from South Korea, 1002 from Spain, 501 from Sweden, 501 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 500 from Thailand, 1000 from the UK, 1002 from the US and 501 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2021.
2 Future of Travel research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who have traveled for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and must be planning to travel in the next 12 months (if/once travel restrictions are lifted). In total 20,934 respondents across 28 countries and territories were polled (including from 999 USA, 496 from Canada, 497 from Mexico, 997 from Colombia, 999 from Brazil, 499 from Argentina, 995 from Australia, 499 from New Zealand, 999 from Spain, 996 from Italy, 996 from France, 999 from UK, 996 from Germany, 498 from Netherlands, 499 from Denmark, 499 from Sweden, 498 from Croatia, 1001 from Russia, 498 from Israel, 997 from India, 994 from China, 499 from Hong Kong, 497 from Thailand, 496 from Singapore, 499 from Taiwan, 997 from South Korea, 500 from Vietnam and 995 from Japan). Respondents completed an online survey in July 2020.
3 Sustainable Travel Report 2021 research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 29,349 respondents across 30 countries and territories (1,000 from USA, 1,007 from Canada, 1,000 from Mexico, 964 from Colombia, 1,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 999 from Australia, 941 from New Zealand, 1,001 from Spain, 1,000 from Italy, 1,000 from France, 1,000 from UK, 1,000 from Germany, 1,003 from Netherlands, 986 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 997 from Croatia, 1,005 from Russia, 1,003 from Israel, 1,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 968 from Thailand, 963 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,005 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 1,002 from South Africa and 500 from Kenya ). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2021, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in March 2021.