Twenty-six percent of U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) tour operators expect 2013 to be a "boom year" for travel, with sales increasing more than 10%. Another 26.7% expect sales to increase 7–9%. Thirty-seven percent are cautiously optimistic and expect growth of 4–6%.
Cruising, both ocean and river, as well as multi-generational travel remain strong trends. The 2013 Luxe Report also predicts there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations and suggests that when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories in order to stay in nicer hotels.
As in past reports, the motivation behind high-end travel continues to be: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; personal enrichment; seeking adventure; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – again, supporting the emerging destinations as well as emphasizing multigenerational travel as one of the biggest trends for 2013.
Domestically, Napa Valley /Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping both Maui and New York from their touted positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares an unlikely fourth place juxtaposed with the state of Alaska. Families will visit Italy, Costa Rica, England and Mexico, the study finds, while couples will consider Italy, French Polynesia, France, Bali and Fiji.
Travel advisors still continue to be the lead influencer in determining their clients' travel decisions, followed closely by input from friends and family, which shows that crowd-sourcing will continue to factor into the travel planning process. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining popularity as more airlines introduce and expand this on-board product.
Additional travel trends to watch in 2013:
- Insta-Travel: Posting, re-pinning and sharing photos while traveling instantly allows travelers to give to-the-minute updates on where they are — an effective way to drive the "Wish You Were Here!" message.
- One-of-a-kind Travel Momentos: Art collecting while traveling is on the rise, with street art — including one-of-a-kind, yet relatively inexpensive pieces — being particularly in demand among hip travelers with a keen design eye. Some argue that there’s no better travel memento than a piece of art from an exciting destination.
- Return of the Big Trip: As the economic climate steadies itself — with luxury advertising for global brands a driving force — consumer confidence in extended luxury vacations is returning, with tour operators seeing a strong increase in long-lead bookings, several as remarkable as a year out from departure dates.
- Historical Trails: The opportunity to venture down old paths is enticing to travelers eager to make new discoveries along the way. “Storied journeys such as the Inca Trail and the Spice Route hold enormous appeal to travelers. This, after all, is how the world as we know it came to be — by explorers forging all of these connections, first geographically, then economically and culturally,” states Seema Prakash, Destination Manager, India & The Sub-Continent.