Motto by Hilton New York City Chelsea
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Hilton Forecasts Emerging Trends of Travelers in 2023

The year of the evolved traveler.

If 2022 was the year of the changed traveler primarily due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, 2023 is predicted to be the year of the evolved traveler, according to a report which was released from Hilton that forecasts what are some of the interesting trends to expect from travelers — as well as the travel industry itself — in 2023.

Hilton Forecasts Emerging Trends of Travelers in 2023

Motto by Hilton New York City Chelsea
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The complete global trends report from the multinational lodging company — The 2023 Traveler: Emerging Trends that are Innovating the Travel Experiencea Report from Hilton — was just released on Monday morning, November 14, 2022; and it does not just cover the Hilton Honors frequent guest loyalty program. The report covers insights about the evolved traveler who has reassessed his or her priorities and loyalties — including preferences pertaining to experiences, food and beverage, travel that is friendly to pets, and health and wellness as only four of many examples of topics in the future of travel over the next year.

“2022 will go down in history as the year when travel came roaring back — and changed before our eyes”, according to Christopher Nassetta — who is the current chief executive officer of Hilton — in the aforementioned report; and although we walked away from our computer screens and were reminded of the unmistakable power of connections in person, “2022 also uncovered unexpected friction points. After years of slowing down, life accelerated for many —full speed ahead — without a clear roadmap, creating a tension between the new and the old. Many employers and employees returned to offices while still joining virtual meetings. Travel demand outpaced travel recovery.”

According to the report, 84 percent of global travelers hope to travel just as much — if not more — in 2023 compared to 2022; and when they do, their expectations will fall under the following four consistent themes. 

People Will Turn to Travel For Deeper, More Engaging, Human Experiences and Connections.

Hilton Bogotá Corferias
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Travel is a gateway to discovering different cultures and perspectives — and in 2023, people will focus on travel as a way to create deeper connections with friends, family, colleagues, customers, cultures, and the planet. A rising interest in unique and engaging experiences, design, and food and beverage programs — such as culinary experiences with award-winning chefs — will occur. Travelers will pack their passions next year as they look to identify exceptional experiences that complement their personal interests. Respondents who travel for work expect to do so more in 2023 and are looking to create or strengthen connections with co-workers or customers during those trips. Experiences that connect the traveler to the local communities will be especially important.

  • 49 percent are looking to be immersed in local cultures and products
  • 40 percent will be looking for more immersive, personalized access to unique experiences and activities — such as performances, events, spa treatments or classes
  • Greater than one third will be looking to learn about local cultures or give back to the community
  • 50 percent are looking for personalized experiences and activities

Here are videos of my experiences at the Hilton Bogotá Corferias hotel property in Colombia:

More videos of my experiences are found at the official YouTube channel of The Gate With Brian Cohen.

People Will Recognize Authentic Travel as An Essential Part of Their Wellness Routine.

Motto by Hilton New York City Chelsea
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

As the world emerged from the height of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, people reconsidered what “wellness” meant in their lives — considering areas of mindfulness, emotional well-being, and sleep in addition to nutrition and fitness. As one of a number of initiatives to address wellness for the body, mind, and spirit, a new partnership with Peloton was recently announced by Hilton — and by the end of the year, nearly all 5,400 hotel and resort properties across the hotel portfolio of Hilton in the United States will feature at least one Peloton Bike in every fitness center, providing guests with a more holistic wellness experience which includes access to instructors from Peloton and expansive connected fitness content. In 2023, travelers are forecast to further prioritize travel with wellness in mind as they look for accommodations, destinations, and authentic travel experiences that address their holistic wellness needs.

  • 50 percent believe that travels which address their mental or physical wellness is important
    • 33 percent will prioritize being able to address their physical wellbeing — and for 26 percent, accessibility to fitness amenities like centers or activities will be a priority on their minds while traveling next year.
    • 35 percent will prioritize being able to address and improve their mental wellness; and 49 percent of employed respondents will be looking to travel in 2023 to disconnect from work
  • Greater than 2 in 5 people will be looking for healthier options to eat and drink
  • 32 percent will prioritize locally sourced food and beverage products
  • 54 percent are looking for personalized food and beverage options

More Than Ever, Travelers Will Want Lodging Companies to Take Care Of Them.

DoubleTree cookie
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

A renewed appreciation for the most basic tenet of hospitality is expected to occur in 2023: to feel like lodging companies actually care for them and will take care of them. Designing an elevated stay that matters is also of paramount importance — even down to the famous DoubleTree cookie. Guests will seek out hotel and resort properties that have flexible hybrid spaces which shift to their evolving needs. Travelers will be loyal to those brands and partners that fill this emotional need and physical need; and they will welcome moments of personalization or recognition in return for their loyalty.

  • 53 percent will care about reliable and friendly service when traveling in 2023
  • 93 percent agree that a stay experience at a hotel or resort property can make or break a trip
  • 84 percent of guests who have had a less-than-ideal rental or homeshare experience agreed they are more likely to stay in a hotel or resort property for their next trip
  • 42 percent indicate that loyalty perks — such as earning points, redeeming points, and loyalty benefits — will matter to them when traveling in 2023

Travelers Want Frictionless Travel Innovations That Are Led By Both Technology and Humans.

Hilton Bogotá Corferias
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

While technology often powers each day on a daily basis, people provide relatability and personalization. To reduce the strongest tension points of travel, travelers will use new technologies — such as enhanced online booking options and solutions based on mobile software application programs to ensure that travel is easier, chargers for electric vehicles, and confirmed connecting rooms — but they will continue to want excellent customer service through personalized guest engagements, tailored corporate contracts, culinary experiences, and unique event activations through a balance of both digital and human innovations within the hotel experience. Control and convenience will be prioritized more in 2023; and business needs will be answered with “hospitality first” innovation.

  • 56 percent confirmed they are most concerned about having an easier travel experience in 2023
    • More parents — 58 percent — feel this way than non-parents at 54 percent
  • 86 percent will be looking for personalization during their travel experiences and interactions
  • 25 percent want travel and hospitality companies to accommodate their personal needs in 2023

Final Boarding Call

Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa Montego Bay Jamaica
Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

The outlook for 2023 from the aforementioned report from Hilton is quite optimistic; and some downsides which were not addressed may become reality during the next year…

…but the resurgence of travel led to a renewed appreciation for many things which were essentially taken for granted prior to the start of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic; and perhaps some lessons which were learned to prevent us as a society from committing the same mistakes and blunders in the future. That, in my opinion, is the main reason why 2022 was the year of the changed traveler and why so many people returned to travel once again.

In the meantime, the possibilities of advantages in this new age of travel — some of which are addressed in the report from Hilton — is something to which we can look forward…

All photographs ©2019, ©2021, and ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

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