City travel returns, convenience is king: GHA CEOs

City travel will make a comeback in 2022 to around 75% of 2019 levels and convenience as well as staycations will dominate in 2022, according to 35 hotel group CEOs who are members of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), Dubai.

Travelers will either go big or stay at home, with supersized holidays to ultra-luxury resorts and trips to major global cities high on the agenda, as well as serial staycations, daycations and work-from-hotel scenarios, said the CEOs.

More flexible travel payment options and convenient contactless services will become a priority, significantly influencing the purchasing behaviors of travelers, according to the hotel leaders.

Here is a roundup of five predictions made by the hotel brand CEOs, who were surveyed in October 2021 and January 2022:

  1. Bucket-list travel and unique experiences are top consumer travel trends for 2022, with almost 73% of survey respondents revealing they were targeting this sector trend with substantial sales and marketing activity above all others. They also flagged up a surge in bookings for villas and suites, dominated by family group travel. Some guests are taking it a step further, opting for a resort buyout to celebrate weddings and special occasions, with the Indian Ocean region a definite hotspot. It’s also clear that travelers will continue to prioritize responsible travel options this year with 59% of CEOs surveyed dedicating sales and marketing efforts to promoting hotel sustainability credentials to planet and community-conscious guests.
  2. City travel will make a comeback in 2022, according to 80% of the CEOs. They anticipate guest numbers at urban properties will return to around 75% of 2019 levels this year. According to GHA forward-booking data, the most popular cities for 2022 are Dubai and London, while Rome and Lisbon are rising in prominence again.
  3. Experience-hungry travelers will continue to explore hotels and destinations on their doorstep in 2022 with 46% of GHA CEOs indicating the daycation market was a sales and marketing priority this year. The ongoing ‘bleisure’ and ‘work-from-anywhere’ trends remain dominant with 41% of CEOs targeting the remote work and work-from-hotel markets. Drive-to destinations are in strong demand, while extended-stays are on the rise.
  4. Traveler desire for ease of payment will reach an all-time high this year with more than 68% of CEOs investing in systems upgrades this year to provide guests with a seamless experience, particularly at point of sale.
  5. Weary of pandemic-related red tape, travelers will value convenience more than ever in 2022. The survey revealed more than 68% of the CEOs intended to look at introducing keyless room entry/room keys in 2022, while 46% were prioritizing online check-in and room choices, and 23% were researching opportunities for in-room AI, such as Amazon’s Alexa or similar. Forward-looking CEOs are considering the benefits of the metaverse and virtual reality as part of it with 50% surveyed keen to use VR for hotel tours.