Travel Experts Share Top Trends for 2022

Travel Experts polled a number of its affiliated independent consultants and found that 2022 may be the busiest and most profitable year ever for travel advisors as pent-up demand is driving business. According to the survey, Europe continues to lead all destinations, while advisors are reporting huge growth in multigenerational travel, which shows the increased interest in family vacations following COVID lockdowns. In addition, many ICs are getting new clients that have turned to advisors to book for the first time because of the complexity of travel since the rise in COVID protocols.

Here's what we learned

2022 Will Be the Best Year Ever

For several advisors, 2022 is shaping up to be the best year on record. “My sales this summer will represent the best in my 33-year history as a vacation planner,” said Holly Lombardo, based in Atlanta, GA.

Milwaukee, WI-based Peggy Purtell added, “I think 2022 will pass 2019, which was my busiest year ever.”

Summer travel is also heating up, as countries reduce or remove entirely their entry protocols. “Summer 2022 travel is up approximately 25 percent year-over-year despite the fact that 2021 was a strong season for my business,” said Alexis Sherry in Livingston, NJ

Europe Is a Top Destination

As is often the case for Americans, Europe is a big draw—both for land-based travel and river cruising.

“Europe is back,” said Rob DelliBovi of RDB Hospitality in Orlando, FL. “We've seen a big shift from avoiding Europe at all costs to full on travel sweeps of the continent.”

Said Linda de Sosa in Houston, TX: “My clients are booking Europe, Europe and Europe with lots of river cruises and European FITs.” Beyond Europe, de Sosa reported that a new trend she’s seeing among her clients is the growth of expedition cruising to remote destinations. She also noted that “we are seeing a lot more multigenerational, family travel with siblings, sisters-in-law, parents and adult children, grandparents with their children and grandchildren.”

Sherry added: “In 2021, my clients were obviously more focused on domestic travel, including luxury destinations in the western United States—particularly luxury ranch destinations in Montana and Wyoming. 2022 has seen the return of European travel, including trips to more classic summer travel destinations like Italy, Croatia and southern France.”

Lombardo agreed that “Europe is surging—and in particular Italy, France and Spain” but added that “many of my clients are continuing to travel in the U.S. to California, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Maine. Bucket list items such as safari and Antarctica are also being planned.”

Limited Availability

People are back to traveling—and it shows when you look at inventory. Several Travel Experts advisors noted how difficult it is to find the right accommodation for their clients.

Said DelliBovi: “This is the most difficulty that we've ever had in terms of booking hotels, car service, airport greeters, and private jets as staffing shortages on the vendor side continue to brutalize our industry, and existing staff is overwhelmed and not nearly as responsive as we're used to.”

“The more frustrating aspect of summer travel for my clients has been the limited availability, required minimum stays, and of course higher than expected nightly rates and international airfare,” added Sherry.

Claire Saunders of Where Next Adventures in Austin, TX even said, “For the first time, I am seeing my go-to DMCs kick back trips because of not enough lead time. Some have also started requiring a minimum budget, which doesn’t really make sense to me. One of my DMCs is requiring a $10,000 minimum budget.”

Purtell shared that she’s seeing more travelers using an advisor now, as “they need the expertise of a professional.” She continued: “These new clients always booked their own travel and now want a professional that can help them navigate the complexities of logistics, scarce availability and COVID restrictions.”

Purtell added, “The frustration is lack of inventory and our suppliers are swamped. In the past there was a lot of last-minute travel and now if clients book last minute, they will not have as many options for hotels and tours.”

Like many other advisors, Lombardo noted many of her clients are coming to her with “last-minute requests departing within two to three weeks,” but she also noted the “diametrically opposed” trend of her clients also planning departures a year in advance. That’s one way to ensure your clients get the right flights and accommodations they’re seeking.

Lombardo also said that more of her clients are purchasing trip insurance “at my strong urging.” She added, “I make it very clear the cancellations and schedule changes that are impacting travelers and that they are putting their investment in real danger when they decline to purchase trip insurance.” 

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