Compelling new consumer trends drive rebound in UK travel sector – research

Travel research 2022 Captify Lastminute.com forward

Consumers are making longer travel plans and more last minute short breaks, with a rise in eco tourism and wellness breaks among emerging new audiences in the sector.

That’s according to a new report which revealed that the travel industry is in the midst of pivotal change as consumer attitudes and demands change in the wake of the global pandemic.

Travel research 2022

The research, carried out by Captify, the global search intelligence company, and Forward, the media & marketing arm of lastminute.com, will make for critical reading for advertisers in the travel sector. 

They teamed up to reveal market-changing travel trends across the UK and Europe driven by macro-level shifts triggered by the pandemic. 

Travel interest was recovering until Omicron rumours came along.

Through a combination of their unique data sets of billions of onsite searches collected across six European markets, and transactional booking data from lastminute.com’s network of websites, the research illustrates changes in behaviours and emerging audiences that will shape the future of travel.

They also created a fascinating infographic showing the results of the research in colourful detail.

Travel brands are emerging from a volatile two years and are faced with complex challenges as they seek to re-engage consumers who have not travelled in years and whose behaviours and preferences have undergone massive shifts. 

Brand marketers need to know how they should be adjusting their strategies to reach the same consumers as they did pre-pandemic. 

captify forward research travel sector 2022 8
The new tourist: Emerging new class of traveller set to drive travel demand.

They also need to be able to uncover opportunities to communicate with new audiences that have emerged as a result of behavioural changes. 

The combination of intent-driven search data and transaction data create the ultimate truth set for today’s traveller.

Key trends and findings include:

  • A critical emerging audience, Sustainable Travellers, has grown by more than 8.3X in the UK and 3.4X in the EU. This group is actively seeking more information on eco-travel, zero waste travel, eco and green accommodations, carbon offsetting, etc.
  • Another high-growth audience, Wellness Seekers, have surged across both the UK and Europe—with a 10.7X and 3.2X increase, respectively—fuelled by a growing generation of travellers looking to integrate wellness into their trips
  • Changing restrictions and reduced flexibility triggered last-minute trips, between  2020 and 2021, last-minute trips surged for travellers, with flight bookings made less than up to 2 weeks in advance growing from 25% to 42% of total flight bookings in Europe
  • Extended trips are also a major new trend, with stays of 3-4 weeks and 1-3 months increasing by 25% for European travellers and 40% for UK travellers.

“The travel industry has gone through a massively disruptive couple of years and we’ve been dedicated to sharing what we saw happening across Europe as it unfolded with travel and leisure brands, guiding them through uncharted territory”, said Giacomo Giuriani, European Director at Forward. 

“This research is the latest example of that, empowering brands to truly see how travel behaviour has evolved and pinpoint the emerging insights and trends that are driving travel right now. 

“It’s key for publishers and advertisers to have access to datasets that complement their own first-party data, and Captify’s dynamic search data has been an important part of our strategy. 

“Understanding broader consumer trends happening outside of your own world, from macro level market shifts to a granular understanding of intent-led behaviours, is critical, especially when this type of data will become increasingly rare post-cookie.’

captify forward research travel sector 2022 3
Not so secret escapes: The top destinations we favoured last year…

Fiona Salmon, Global Vice President of Partnerships at Captify, said: “This research comes at a pivotal moment for the travel industry, as consumer confidence is reaching pre-pandemic levels and advertisers need to be hyper-focused on listening to consumers’ signals of intent in order to adjust to their new wants and needs and stay ahead of competitors.  

“Forward was a natural research partner to join forces with. We share a dedication to turning our data into actionable insights for brands to navigate market challenges, create strategies that reflect true consumer demand and deliver plans that will move their businesses forward.”

Methodology

Forward’s Travel Intelligence Unit analyses the search and booking flow coming from lastminute.com‘s network of websites on a daily basis. 

It aggregated, processed and stored first-party data information within the protected environment of the firm’s data warehouse. 

This report was generated with a focus on outbound travel from main European countries throughout 2021, across multiple online travel products and data dimensions.

Meanwhile, Captify’s onsite search data was collected across six markets (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands) between 1 January 2021 and 31 January 2022, based on 24bn+ monthly searches across premium publishers.