Expedia Group Calls 2023 the Year of the "No-Normal”

For the first time, Expedia Group unveiled a comprehensive view of traveler and travel industry trends for 2023, pulling data from its Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo brands. Sourced from the company’s first-party data, and from custom research of thousands of travelers and industry professionals across 17 countries, these top travel trends show there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to travel in 2023; instead, they point to a year defined by the “no-normal.”

Among the top interests, however, are trips to culture capitals, a new wave of interest in wellness retreats and a spike in demand for outdoor destinations beyond beaches and mountains.

Below are the top “trends,” as broken down by website.

Expedia: “Set-Jetters”

Booking a trip after binging a popular new series will become serious business in 2023. Expedia research confirms that streamed movies and TV shows are now the top sources of travel inspiration (40 percent), outpacing the influence of social media (31 percent). Further, the small screen is now considered on par with recommendations from friends and family when it comes to travel inspiration.

In the U.S., two-thirds (68 percent) of travelers considered visiting a destination after seeing it in a show or movie on a streaming platform, and a whopping 61 percent booked a trip. The top “set-jetter” destinations include New Zealand, followed by the U.K.Paris, New York and the beach resorts of Hawaii

Expedia: Culture Capitals

National parks and rural retreats have had big moments these past two years; now, however, it’s time for cities to see a comeback. Based on traveler demand, most of the destinations seeing the largest increases are culture-rich cities where art and culture festivities are getting back to full swing. Some of these include:

  • Edinburgh, Scotland​
  • Lisbon, Portugal​
  • Tokyo, Japan​
  • Dublin, Ireland​
  • New York, U.S.
  • Sydney, Australia​
  • Dubai, U.A.E.​
  • Montreal, Canada​
  • Munich, Germany​
  • Bangkok, Thailand

Hotels.com: Three-Star Superstars

Hotel Claude Marbella
Travelers are looking for "cool factor" and value in their hotels, such as the Hotel Claude Marbella.  (Photo courtesy of Expedia Group)

Travelers are seeking smarter ways to see the world, without compromising on comfort or “cool factor.” In the U.S., a third (32 percent) of travelers are more concerned with value for money than ever before. Hotels.com data shows interest is up more than 20 percent globally in three-star hotels. In 2023, 40 percent of US travelers plan to stay in one- to three-star hotels and 34 percent plan to book a vacation with added value inclusions, such as free parking or breakfast.

Showing a shift in mindset from the post-pandemic bucket-list mentality and moving towards a more spontaneous approach, one-third of travelers would rather go on more trips in three-star properties than splurge on one big luxury getaway.

Hotels.com: New-Wave Wellness

More than half (53 percent) of Americans are seeking wellness breaks but cite boredom for traditional retreats and want to experience something more exciting in 2023. Millennials are the top drivers of this, as 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds are seeking out alternative wellness getaways. Most travelers want to explore new offerings in the U.S.; however, Gen Z has a different view and would prefer to book an adventure to Norway, Turkey, Switzerland, Iceland or Sri Lanka. 

To capture this awakened market, hotels are offering advanced rejuvenation programs and hands-on activities that encourage travelers to get up close and personal with nature. The quirkier the activity the better. "Sylvotherapy," forest bathing and fruit harvesting are more popular than classic activities like cooking courses, sport holidays and meditation sessions.

Hotels.com: Hot New Hotels

New hotels that cater to evolving traveler needs are opening around the world. These properties offer far more than a place to sleep, with destination restaurants, co-working spaces and beautiful interiors as standard. From an art-filled social hub in London to unbridled luxury in Rome, these are the top hotels to have on your radar in the year ahead, according to Hotels.com: 

  • La Palma (Capri, Italy)
  • 100 Princes Street (Edinburgh, U.K.)
  • Ikos Odisia (Corfu, Greece)
  • Celestial Suites (Kefalonia, Greece)
  • 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay (Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii)
  • Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo (Tamarindo, Mexico)
  • Alila Kothaifaru Maldives (the Maldives)
  • Six Senses (Rome, Italy)
  • Atlantis The Royal (Dubai, U.A.E.)
  • Art'otel London Battersea Power Station (London, Great Britain)

Vrbo: “Foodie-menities”

An outdoor kitchen with a grill and pizza oven, across from a set dining table and a pool beyond
Outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens and air fryers are the top three foodie-menities travelers crave.  (Photo courtesy of Expedia Group)

Kitchen credentials are a must, with travelers looking to plate up at their own convenience in a private Vrbo vacation home. Outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens and air fryers are the top three foodie-menities travelers crave. Additionally, nearly half of U.S. travelers (43 percent) are using cooking to cut down on costs.  

Travelers are looking for preferred amenities in their whole home vacation rentals rather than focusing on location. In fact, more than half (57 percent) of travelers would rather book a unique vacation home to be with their people in a lesser-known destination than a less interesting, less equipped vacation home in a popular area. 

Vrbo: “Cowboy-cations”

Rustic getaways are on the rise, as travelers crave private vacation homes with abundant space and exhilarating views. Cue the cowboy-cation, offering an intimate escape in the rugged wilderness. Demand for Vrbo homes in U.S. western destinations increased by more than 30 percent from September 2021 to August 2022, as travelers seek to reconnect with nature. Plus, 42 percent of U.S. travelers find inspiration in outdoorsy destinations and mind-blowing landscapes.

While destinations across Montana, Colorado and other western states spring readily to mind, the cowboy-cation is not confined to the U.S. For a home on the range in Europe, travelers are booking converted barns and farmhouses in the countryside of Italy, Spain, France and the U.K. Thrill-seekers can also embrace their inner cowboy in Australia, where farmhouses in the outback overlook acres of wineries and wild brush.

Vrbo: Hidden Gems

Travelers are also exploring unassuming locales and new places. Top hidden gems in the U.S. have one thing in common: beautiful lakes, where travelers can take in tranquil views. Demand for Vrbo’s private vacation homes in each of the following unconventional destinations has increased by 30 percent or more since September 2021:

  • Nampa, Idaho
  • Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Layton, Utah
  • Irmo, South Carolina
  • Oneonta, New York
  • Hampton, Virginia
  • Bristol, Rhode Island
  • Spokane, Washington 
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Missoula, Montana

Source: Expedia Group

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