International bookings for 2018 are surging, American Express Travel reports. The company’s 2018 Trend Forecast, which surveyed over 2,000 respondents, internal booking data and expert analysis, offers a number of insights into what’s in store for the travel industry in the year ahead. Here are the highlights:
International Interest — American Express Travel’s international bookings are up 44 percent for the first quarter of 2018, according to internal booking data. This is complemented by their recent survey, where 25 percent of respondents cite learning about history, art and culture across the globe as their most important travel goal for 2018.
- 72 percent of respondents say that they enjoy learning about different cultures.
- 15 percent have traveled to experience new languages, customs and people in the last year, and there’s a 5 percent increase to do the same in 2018 (20 percent)
Immersion of Cultures – Over half (57 percent) of Americans have set ‘exploring a new destination that they’ve never seen before’ as their most important travel goal for 2018 and nearly half of travelers (43 percent) cite finding a local culinary spot in a hip neighborhood as the most exciting dining experience while traveling.
- 52 percent of Americans enjoy getting lost and spontaneously discovering hidden restaurants, shops and bakeries to create their own memories
- 49 percent of Americans prefer trips with adventure and excitement
Travelers seek an ‘elevated’ experience – 56 percent of U.S. travelers are willing to pay more to get better service and 53 percent like to be pampered while traveling. Additionally, luxury travelers are increasingly booking premium seating with 68 percent planning to fly first or business class in 2018. More than half (56 percent) of American travelers view a refreshed, luxurious premium airplane as the most desired perk when traveling by air.
- 51 percent view an airline seat upgrade as the most desired surprise and delight when booking air travel
- 24 percent of U.S. travelers plan to use an airport lounge in the next year
- 41 percent view room upgrades as most desired surprise and delight when booking a hotel
Connecting with those who matter – While solo travel still has its place, more than half (53 percent) of Americans prefer a social travel experience over a solo one, with travelers seeking to connect with likeminded travelers for an optimal experience. Subsequently, who you are traveling with (25 percent) is more important than where you are going (17 percent), according to the survey findings.
- 57 percent of Americans seek to interact with locals when traveling
- 57 percent want to stay with a local while traveling
- 21 percent say that the most desired surprise and delight while on vacation is a unique activity planned by a local expert
Focus on holistic wellness – Nearly half (49 percent) of U.S. travelers view travel as ‘energizing,’ with nearly as many (48 percent) planning to travel over the next year to escape, recharge and reconnect with themselves.
- 22 percent of Americans say that the most important travel goal for 2018 is to disconnect from technology, work and everyday life
- 50 percent view on-site spa services, restaurants, nightclubs and pool as the most desired hotel feature
- 61 percent of travelers say they feel like ‘there’s never enough time to do what they want to do.’
Top 10 Destinations for 2018
Based on American Express Travel proprietary booking data, the top ten travel destinations for the upcoming year include:
- Costa Rica: San Jose and Liberia regions
- Portugal: Lisbon and Porto regions
- Tel Aviv
- “Utah-lorado”: Park City, Salt Lake City, Aspen, Denver, and Vail
- Vietnam: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City regions