Splurge stays, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and Netflix-inspired vacations are sparking this summer’s travel trends.
After two years of millions not taking flights or holidays in general due to pandemic-related restrictions, many are racing to visit their favorite countries or venture into hideaways they have only read or dreamed about. People are traveling more than ever to make up for the last two years, with last-minute plans gaining ground for big trips, according to Artisans of Travel founder and chief executive officer Ashley Isaacs Ganz.
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“Overall, luxury travel is back and they are ready to splurge. They want the very best of everything right now. They want everything private. They’re privatizing access to museums [or] sites. [Think an after-hours tour of the Uffizi in Florence followed by dinner in a private palazzo or a solo expedition to an archeological site or tombs in Egypt.] Many are asking for private boat charters or jets. They’re upgrading room categories to top suites. They’re taking friends and family members,” she says.
Courtesy of Indagare
International flight prices have jumped 31 percent compared to last year and domestic flight prices are up 25 percent, according to the online travel booking site Kayak.com. Searches for international summer travel are more than 70 percent above last year, whereas domestic flight searches are up 18 percent.
The surge in travel demand, a 95 percent rise in fuel prices compared to 2019 and lower seat capacity for summer escapes aren’t deterring many. Airlines expect to shuttle 2.4 million travelers a day, according to Hopper’s 2022 Travel Guide. Despite airfares soaring and hotel prices jumping by 36 percent compared to last year at this time, people will be taking trips, with 24 percent flying for the first time since the pandemic took hold, according to Hopper’s Hayley Berg.
Along with Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain, other European ports of call like Vienna, Prague and Budapest are in high demand, as are Dubai, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East, Ganz says. As parts of Asia and the Pacific Rim reopen, places like Bali, Australia and New Zealand are bouncing back. Artisans of Travel’s “Greece by Yacht” tour, where clients idle away the day on yachts and stay in top-notch hotels each night, is one of the most popular jaunts this summer. A lot of families are booking that trip, despite a starting price of $85,000 a person for two people, or $51,000 a person for four people.
Courtesy of Artisans of Travel
Pandemic streaming and binge watching of “Emily in Paris” and “Call My Agent” are inspiring many trips to Paris, especially among teenagers. Shows are often influencing where people want to go to see the decorative art sites or museums that have been remodeled or recently reopened and featured in these series. “Inventing Anna” is prompting others to hit Morocco, Ganz says.
Elise Bronzo, vice president of sales at Indagare, a membership-based travel and media company, agrees that many travelers are flocking back to perennial European favorites like France and Italy. Others are taking a carpe-diem approach and planning bucket-list trips like African safaris, or hiking jaunts in Patagonia, she says.
Undaunted by higher airline ticket prices due to fewer available flights, Indagare travelers have upped their travel budgets by 30 percent on average and extended their trips, rationalizing they spent nothing on travel during the pandemic. Hotel budgets are also up, with members spending about $1,500 a room each night compared to between $1,100 and $1,200 a night pre-pandemic.
Five-day stays weren’t out of the question before COVID-19, but that is no longer the case. “Travel in 2019 had reached an age of fast fashion, where we feel that we are now going into more haute couture. Rather than just try to check things off their list of countries to travel to, they are preferring to immerse themselves in one country, or possibly two, by planning stays anywhere from 10 days up to a month,” Bronzo says. More remote locales like Amelia Romano, Ischia, Sicily, Malta and Paros are increasingly of interest.
Despite many countries and European airlines lifting mask mandates, travelers are being advised to play it safe by maintaining mask protocols and hand washing since the U.S. still requires a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country. Private aviation is increasingly popular due partially to many airlines being grounded and limited options for shorter-haul flights to more remote places.
“Convenience is the ultimate luxury,” Bronzo says. “Some of the innovations that will be coming out in the months and years ahead will be more customer-friendly, luxury, short-haul flights to destinations with smaller airports like Asheville, N.C., and Palm Springs. Given the hassles tied to travel, flying private is increasingly popular and those who can swing it are seeking larger aircraft to ferry their friends.”
In March, Bombardier delivered its 100th Global 7500 to VistaJet. With a list price of $75 million, the Global 7500 is the world’s largest and longest-range business jet that can carry 19 passengers and, in its fully equipped version, has a bedroom, living room, dining room (which can double as a conference room), lounge, kitchen, a bathroom with a stand-up shower and a powder room. Others like NetJets are also buying larger aircraft like the Global 7500, as well as the Global 5500 and the Global 6500.
Courtesy of Bombardier
With many vacationers eager to cash in on travel credits for trips that were booked in 2020 and 2021, ample advance planning is essential for big-ticket trips like safaris, and even less exotic ones like Europe. “Europe is more popular than ever, but there are amazing places to visit in Africa as well. It’s important to look farther afield to places like Morocco, which need our tourism dollars more than ever. So consider for the fall Marrakech, Egypt and many of the other really far-flung places,” Bronzo says.
A larger base of people are seeking more experiential and meaningful trips versus typical tourist outings, said Vacation With an Artist, or VAWAA, founder Geetika Agrawal. “The pandemic just totally accelerated that, because everyone had a project during the pandemic. Someone was baking bread, someone was making art, someone was making music — everyone started hobbies.”
First-quarter demand was the highest in VAWAA’s history and the summer is shaping up the same way. Customers are increasingly more inclined to take flight with family and friends to, for example, learn stone sculpturing in Mexico. Doing so deepens bonding with each other and a local community, while also allowing someone to pursue a passion, Agrawal says. VAWAA experiences range from $500 to $3,000 a person, excluding flights and accommodations. In some cases, people can stay with the artist for as little as $300 for a four- or five-day stay. These humble accommodations dovetail into the richness of the experience, which is what most VAWAA travelers are after, Agrawal says.
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