Summer Travel Trends for 2023: Opportunities and Challenges for Travel Agents

With 70% of U.S. travelers intending to travel over the next year, according to MMGY’s latest Portrait of the American Traveler, the travel industry is poised for a busy summer season. As a travel agent, it's important to stay informed about the latest travel trends to ensure that your clients have the best possible travel experience. However, it's also important to be prepared for the good and the bad that these trends may bring. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the latest travel trends for the 2023 summer season and what they mean for travel agents. From the rise in international travel to the potential impact of labor shortages on the hospitality sector, we'll cover it all. So, let's dive in and get started.

Trend 1: International Cities Are in High Demand

According to new data from Expedia's Summer Travel Forecast, flight searches are up 25% this summer, with interest in international cities in Europe and Asia up by triple digits. London has stolen the show as the most-searched destination on Google Flights, followed by other European cities like Paris, Rome, Athens, Barcelona, and Dublin.

For travel agents, this trend presents an opportunity to market travel packages and tours that cater to international destinations. Travel agents can create packages that offer unique experiences in these popular European and Asian cities, such as walking tours of historic landmarks, cultural activities, and culinary experiences. In addition, travel agents can promote these destinations through social media channels, email campaigns, and other marketing efforts to attract clients who are interested in exploring new cultures and experiences.

However, it's also important for travel agents to be aware of the potential challenges that may arise with international travel, such as visa requirements, language barriers, and travel restrictions. Travel agents should stay up to date with the latest travel regulations and restrictions to ensure that their clients have a smooth travel experience. They can also offer advice and guidance to clients on how to navigate these challenges, such as providing translation services or recommending travel insurance.

Trend 2: Warm-Weather Destinations and Domestic Hot Spots Will Continue to Lure Travelers

As the weather heats up, so does the desire for warm-weather destinations and domestic hot spots. These areas are a consistent favorite among travelers, and travel agents should be ready to cater to this demand. To tap into this trend, travel agents should focus on promoting sunny destinations, highlighting popular beach activities, and offering deals on flights and accommodations. Travel agents can also partner with local businesses to offer exclusive deals on tours and attractions in warm-weather destinations. Additionally, they can suggest lesser-known destinations that offer similar experiences but with less crowded beaches and fewer tourists. By highlighting the advantages of visiting these destinations during the summer season, travel agents can help their clients make the most of their warm-weather vacation. However, it's important to note that with increased demand comes the possibility of higher prices and limited availability. Therefore, travel agents should be prepared to offer alternative destinations and be transparent about the potential challenges their clients may face when planning a summer trip to a warm-weather destination.

Trend 3: Solo Travel is on the Rise

As the world emerges from the pandemic, people are eager to travel again, and travel trends are showing that many individuals are opting for solo travel. According to recent data, solo travel has been growing in popularity, with Google searches for "solo travel for women," "solo cruises," and "solo travel destinations" increasing by more than 120%. This trend is expected to continue throughout the summer of 2023, and travel agents need to be ready to accommodate the needs of solo travelers.

The rise in solo travel is not just limited to a specific age group or gender. Solo travel is becoming more popular among all age groups, including millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Furthermore, solo travel is no longer just about adventure and self-discovery; it is also about reconnecting with oneself and finding peace in solitude. With more people seeking to travel alone, travel agents must offer packages that cater to the needs of solo travelers.

When it comes to solo travel, safety is a top priority for many travelers. Travel agents must ensure that their clients have access to reliable and safe transportation, accommodations, and activities. They should also offer comprehensive travel insurance that covers all aspects of travel, including medical emergencies, trip cancellation, and lost luggage.

The top destinations searched for solo travel include Japan, New Orleans, Iceland, Mexico City, and Italy. These destinations offer unique experiences that cater to solo travelers, such as solo adventures, cultural immersion, and relaxation. For example, Japan is a top destination for solo travelers looking for an immersive cultural experience, while Iceland is perfect for those seeking outdoor adventures. New Orleans offers a unique food and music scene, while Mexico City is an affordable and vibrant destination. Italy is also a popular destination for solo travelers, offering a rich history and stunning scenery.

To market towards this trend, travel agents should offer solo travel packages that cater to a wide range of interests and budgets. They should also provide recommendations for safe and affordable destinations, accommodations, and activities that are popular among solo travelers. Additionally, travel agents can create social media campaigns that target solo travelers and showcase the unique experiences that they can have while traveling alone.

Trend 4: Couples Are Booking Beach Vacations, But Are Also Seeking Out U.S. Cities

The trend of couples booking beach vacations has been on the rise for several years, and it shows no signs of slowing down in 2023. This trend presents a significant opportunity for travel agents to tailor their marketing strategies towards couples looking for romantic, sun-drenched getaways. Beach destinations like Jamaica, Bora Bora, and Turks and Caicos are highly sought-after locations and travel agents should make sure to include these destinations in their offerings. Agents can also offer additional activities and experiences, such as couples' massages or private sunset cruises, to add a special touch to their clients' vacations.

While beach destinations are popular among couples, there is also a growing interest in U.S. cities as romantic getaways. Las Vegas, San Antonio, San Diego, Miami, and Indianapolis are among the top five cities that couples are searching for activities. These cities offer a variety of activities for couples such as fine dining, cultural experiences, and nightlife, and travel agents should consider creating packages that cater to couples looking for city getaways.

One important thing to keep in mind when marketing towards couples is personalization. Couples want to feel like their vacation is tailored to their specific needs and interests. Travel agents should take the time to get to know their clients and offer recommendations based on their preferences, whether it's a secluded beach villa or a luxurious city suite.

Another marketing strategy that can be effective is to showcase customer reviews and testimonials from couples who have booked with the travel agent before. This helps build trust with potential customers and highlights the agent's expertise in planning romantic getaways.

Trend 5: Slowing Job Growth in the U.S. May Affect Service for Peak Travel Season

The fifth trend that travel agents need to be aware of is the potential impact that the slowing job growth in the United States could have on the travel industry. According to recent reports, the leisure and hospitality sector added only 72,000 jobs in March, a lower-than-expected figure that could be a cause for concern. With the summer travel season right around the corner, this trend could mean a potential shortage of personnel to support the increased demand from travelers.

For travel agents, it's important to be aware of this trend and to plan accordingly. They should be aware of any potential staffing shortages and work with their travel partners to ensure that they have enough staff to meet the needs of their clients. They may also need to adjust their marketing strategies to focus on destinations and travel options that are less labor-intensive.

In order to address this trend, travel agents can market travel options that require less personnel, such as self-guided tours or small-group tours that can be led by a single tour guide. They can also promote off-season travel to destinations that may have less demand during peak travel season, allowing for a more personalized experience for their clients. Additionally, they may need to offer alternative options for accommodations or transportation if their first choice is not available due to staffing shortages.