Expedia research shows that streamed movies and TV shows are now the top sources of travel inspiration (40%), outpacing the influence of social media (31%).

Photo: Expedia Group

For the first time, Expedia Group unveiled a comprehensive view of traveler trends across Expedia, Hotels.com, Vrbo, and the travel industry in 2023. Sourced from the company’s first-party data, and from research of travelers and industry professionals across 17 countries, these travel trends prove there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to travel in 2023. Instead, these trends point to a year defined by the “no-normal.”

“When we look at Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo data together, we see a detailed and robust picture of travel into 2023,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands. “We’re seeing a surge in trips to culture capitals, a new wave of interest in wellness retreats, and a spike in demand for outdoor destinations beyond just beaches and mountains — not a new normal but people branching out to unexpected trends in what we’re calling the ‘no normal.’”

Expedia research confirms that streamed movies and TV shows are now the top sources of travel inspiration (40%), outpacing the influence of social media (31%). In the U.S., more than two-thirds (68%) of travelers considered visiting a destination after seeing it in a show or movie on a streaming platform, and a whopping 61% of respondents booked a trip. The top destinations include New Zealand, followed by the U.K., Paris, New York, and Hawaii. 

Based on traveler demand, most of the destinations seeing the largest increases are culture-rich cities where art and culture festivities are getting back to full swing. Check out the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, plan a trip to WorldPride in Sydney, or visit the cherry blossoms in Tokyo. In the Expedia app, other top culture capitals include Dublin, Dubai, Montreal, Bangkok, Lisbon, and Munich.

In the U.S., nearly a third (32%) of travelers are more concerned with value for money than ever before. Hotels.com data shows interest is up more than 20% globally in three-star hotels. In 2023, 40% of U.S. travelers plan to stay in 1–3-star hotels and 34% plan to book a vacation with added value inclusions, such as free parking or breakfast.

According to Hotels.com, more than half (53%) of Americans are seeking wellness breaks, but they cite boredom for traditional retreats. Millennials are the top drivers of this, as 60% of 25-year-olds to 34-year-olds are looking for alternative wellness getaways. Most travelers want to explore new offerings in the U.S., but Gen Z would prefer to book an adventure to Norway, Turkey, Switzerland, Iceland, and Sri Lanka. 

Kitchen credentials are a must, with travelers looking for kitchens in a private Vrbo vacation home. Outdoor kitchens, pizza ovens, and air fryers are the top three foodie amenities that travelers crave. Additionally, nearly half of U.S. travelers (43%) are using cooking to cut down on costs.  

Demand for Vrbo homes in U.S. western destinations increased by more than 30% from September 2021 to August 2022, as travelers seek to reconnect with nature. Additionally, 42% of U.S. travelers find inspiration in outdoorsy destinations by booking a lodge, ranch retreat, or farmhouse.

Travelers are also exploring unassuming locales and new places. Demand for Vrbo’s private vacation homes in each of these unconventional destinations has increased by 30% or more since September 2021: Nampa, Idaho; Greensboro, N.C.; Layton, Utah; Irmo, S.C.; Oneonta, N.Y.; Spokane, Wash.; Las Cruces, N.M.; Missoula, Montana.

Expedia’s research shows the highest levels of optimism since 2020. Most professionals expect leisure (71%) and business (70%) travel to return to pre-2020 levels within two years. While travelers looking for a change of scenery kept the industry afloat during the pandemic, all eyes are on the return of international and business travel. In fact, more than half (51%) in the industry say business is their organization’s highest priority in 2023.

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