Booking.com's 7 Predictions for the Triumphant Return of Travel in 2022
While COVID-19 is not yet in the rearview mirror, an indefatigable sense of hope is beginning to take its place.
To explore this rolling wave of optimism, Booking.com commissioned extensive research with more than 24,000 travelers across 31 countries and territories1, including Singapore, combining it with proprietary data and insights as a digital travel leader for the past 25 years, to predict how travel will continue to be redefined in the year ahead.
2022 will be the year to make the most of unpredictability and start making up for lost vacation time in a big way, with the number of travelers who feel they need to do so having increased by 52% since last year*. Booking.com’s predictions reveal how people will be reigniting the travel spark in the upcoming year.
Whether as an essential part of a self-care regime or to experience the thrill of just saying yes to whatever travel opportunities and experiences come their way, it’s all about seizing the day in 2022 and making every trip matter. This is particularly so with the recent expansion of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) to 11 countries.
1. Vitamin Vacay
More so than daily exercise or mindful meditation, going away on vacation will become THE form of self-care in 2022, with most people in Singapore (85%) affirming that travel helps their mental and emotional wellbeing more than other forms of rest and relaxation.
After over a year of ever-evolving travel restrictions, the important benefits that travel has on health and wellbeing are now being acknowledged, with more than two-thirds (70%) saying they didn’t realize how important travel was to their wellbeing until it was no longer an option, and 86% saying that having a vacation planned has a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing in Singapore has seen a sharp decline since the pandemic began with restrictions impacting all aspects of life from work to socialising. This makes the announcement of VTLs a promising one, where many will be able to finally break away from their restrictive routine over the past one year to simply relax and rejuvenate.
What makes travel the ideal form of wellness? For one quarter (29%), stepping outside of their comfort zone is the key reason why getting away enables them to reset. Of these individuals, two-thirds (68%) say that staying somewhere with a different scenery from what they are used to helps them to recharge, alongside two-thirds (68%) stating that it’s experiencing a new way of life. For some, it’s trying new cuisines (65%) or hearing a new language (38%) that helps them feel rejuvenated.
2. Resetting the Out Of (Home) Office
When the pandemic hit, homes across the globe became our offices too, and the novelty of working remotely was realized. Come 2022, however, we’ll see a significant rise in people wanting to take back control of a healthy work-life balance.
For three-quarters of Singaporean travelers (80%), vacation time itself will be strictly work-free, which wasn’t always the case in 2021 with home and remote work lives blurred.
Despite the flexibility to work remotely, 54% of them would rather spend less time on vacation if it meant they could completely switch off in 2022 vs. spend more time in the destination, but having to mix business and leisure.
With 70% of people claiming to have worked more hours and using less vacation days during the pandemic, expect to see more people setting their well deserved out of (home) office messages in 2022.
3. All the First-Time Feels
While many of us have forgotten where our passport is, or even just how to pack, all that out-of-practice travel awkwardness will give way to a genuine sense of delight for even the most routine aspects of our trips in 2022.
Remember what it was like to board a plane for the very first time? Or even just to check into a hotel? After feeling ‘stuck’ for so long, rather than rushing through the journey, travelers will be relishing every moment, from fine-tuning the playlist for the rental car to browsing the delicacies duty-free has to offer, with a fifth (22%) most looking forward to the pure excitement and anticipation as the journey begins.
The formerly mundane daydreaming out the train window as the scenery whizzes by or getting lost in a maze of winding cobblestone streets to pick up the keys for your vacation apartment will be sheer bliss for the three-quarters (80%) of people who say travel is more enjoyable when the journey feels like part of the trip itself.
Each ‘first’ of our trips in 2022 will be a moment to savor, with a majority of travelers saying that simple pleasures such as feeling the sun on their skin (71%) or seeing a body of water of some kind instantly improves their mood for the better (81%). Even the uncertainty of navigating public transportation in a new city in a foreign language is something two-thirds (65%) say they’ll enjoy. After such a long period of limited options, recapturing those first-time feels and leaning into every single moment will be a hallmark of trips in 2022.
4. Community First
Border closures forced many of us to look to home to quench our travel-thirst and also to support independently owned businesses that rely heavily on tourists. In 2022, this desire to put the local community first will continue as we start exploring the world again, including the desire to leave a positive impact on the places we visit and the people who live there.
About two-thirds (63%) of people agree it’s important that their trip is beneficial to the local community at their destination and 61% would appreciate an app or website that provides recommendations on destinations where an increase in tourism would have a positive impact on the local community. Furthermore, 68%3 want the money that they spend when traveling to go back to the local community and 73%3 want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture.
Inspired by the important social justice movements of our time, in 2022 travelers will do more research into how well the place they are staying supports local businesses (35%) or how their tourism spend will affect or improve local communities (28%), signifying a new desire to do right by the people who call our favorite vacay destinations home.
5. Swipe Right on New Places and Faces
For many, the pandemic meant spending an extended and intense period with our closest friends and loved ones, but vacations in 2022 will be an opportunity to branch out and make some new connections.
With two-thirds (61%) wanting to meet new people while away, we expect to see Singaporeans using their vacations as an opportunity to expand their usual social circles. In fact, 70% of Singaporean travelers look forward to socializing while on vacation and 57% want to stay somewhere close to plenty of nightlife options so that they can meet new people.
Tired of swiping through the same faces for the past year and a half, people will also be making use of their favorite dating apps while on vacay in 2022 with travel providing an exciting opportunity to find love. We predict a resurgence of holiday romances, with two-thirds (61%) hoping for one on their next trip.
6. Just Say Yes
After so long of being told “no”, travelers are reclaiming a more positive way of thinking for 2022. In fact, 57% will be shirking all of the structure they’ve been contending with, preferring a vacation where they stay flexible and just go with the flow vs. having a well-planned itinerary full of activities. The coming year will bring the very best of improv to travel, with us responding to each unexpected twist and turn in the trip with an emphatic “yes, and…”
To that end, over three-quarters (81%) agree they will say yes to any vacation opportunity if budget allows. And for the 57% that have been saving their pennies by not taking any big trips since the pandemic started, money is no object for the trips they will take in 2022. Close to two-thirds (70%) are more open to different types of vacations than before the pandemic and 64% won’t mind where they go on vacation as long as it’s the type of trip they want, they’re just happy to be away from home.
In 2022, tech will play a key role in supporting spontaneity with increased optionality to book on the go and the flexibility to adapt plans and follow where the adventure leads. In fact, 58% are looking to the latest travel technology innovations to offer a ‘wildcard’ or surprise option of a completely new travel experience that’s suggested based on their past preferences or budget to help them seize every new potential opportunity.
7. Embracing the Unpredictable
Uncertainty will continue to be a constant in travel in 2022, and while we cannot change or predict every new surprise and challenge that fate has in store for us, we will embrace it. Having leaned on technology in a variety of ways to stay connected and inspired over the past year and a half, our favorite apps will continue to help us navigate the unknown on our trips, with three quarters (79%) agreeing that technology helps alleviate the anxiety around traveling.
From AI-powered instant translation services that make it easier for travelers to negotiate last-minute changes of plan directly with accommodation hosts and rental car providers who don’t speak the same language, to machine learning models that automatically inform our host about a late arrival to their beach cottage due to a delayed flight, technology will continue to smooth out the unforeseen bumps in the road with increasing finesse and proactivity.
Because of this, we expect to see even wider adoption of predictive technologies which can help travelers make more informed decisions, especially considering that three in four travelers would be interested in an innovative service that could predict which countries will be safe to travel to (73%), even months in advance, or automatically suggest destinations which are easy to travel to now based on their country’s and the destination’s current COVID-19 requirements (74%).
No matter how accurate any machine learning predictions might be, in order for everyone to truly embrace our new unpredictable normal, the broader travel industry will continue to prioritize flexibility, as travelers rank reassurance that they won’t lose money (41%), the ability to cancel (34%) and ability reschedule free of charge (31%) as the top three most important priorities.
Nuno Guerreiro, Regional Director South Asia Pacific at Booking.com comments: “As we look towards the year ahead, we’re seeing a lot of excitement and anticipation for Singaporeans to return to travel, whether it’s abroad, the trip of a lifetime or just saying yes to whatever travel opportunity comes their way, and it’s our mission to make it easier for everyone to do just that. We will be there for travelers - offering the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience from anywhere and on any device - so people can reclaim their travel mojo and enjoy all of the unforgettable experiences this world has to offer.”
For a deeper dive into Booking.com’s travel predictions for 2022, visit https://www.booking.com/c/trends/travelpredictions2022.html
To download the Singapore Travel Predictions report, please click here.
Part of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), Booking.com’s mission is to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. By investing in the technology that helps take the friction out of travel, Booking.com seamlessly connects millions of travellers with memorable experiences, a range of transportation options and incredible places to stay - from homes to hotels and much more. As one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for both established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes, Booking.com enables properties all over the world to reach a global audience and grow their businesses. Booking.com is available in 44 languages and offers more than 28 million total reported accommodation listings, including more than 6.4 million listings of homes, apartments and other unique places to stay. No matter where you want to go or what you want to do, Booking.com makes it easy and backs it all up with 24/7 customer support.