ANIXE Insights 2023.06: Solo Travel Surges as Summer Season Starts.
According to data collected from the Resfinity booking engine, there has been a slight decrease in bookings since the beginning of the year. Bookings are down by 15% compared to the unprecedented first quarter of 2023. However, it's worth noting that current bookings have shown a significant increase of 22% compared to the same period before the pandemic. These numbers suggest that the travel industry has not only recovered from the impacts of the pandemic but has also experienced expansion.
Compared with before the pandemic, numbers are up across the board, and (unfortunately for us wanting to get away) so are prices. Inflation is the word on everyone's lips as prices climb higher and higher, but is the end in sight? The answer is… complicated. Take Airfares, for example. Prices hit a record high in May 2022 but have since dropped. As of April 2023, airfares are down 14.6% from the May 2022 highs. However, compared to April 2019 (pre-pandemic), April 2023 airfares are 9.6% higher. So, has inflation finally lost its bite?
Inflation in the travel industry currently means that hotel rooms are, on average, 15.3% higher in 2023 than in 2019, dining out is up 24%, and car rentals are up a staggering 51.4%. So, if you're planning a trip, make sure to budget accordingly, or at least bring your bus pass.
Not all numbers going up are so problematic. The travel industry is seeing a remarkable rebound in solo travel in the wake of the pandemic. According to Solo Traveler World, the percentage of Americans considering solo trips has skyrocketed to 25% in 2023, representing approximately 83 million people, compared to 16% in 2022.
Skyscanner's data further solidifies the trend, revealing that 54% of travellers are contemplating solo journeys in 2023. Supporting this, the travel search engine Kayak reported a significant increase in searches for single-traveller flights, showing a 36% surge for 2023 compared to the previous year.
It seems like the increase in solo travel is not only bolstered by a return to business travel but is something else entirely. Research commissioned by Norwegian Cruise Line revealed that over a third of Brits (37%) prefer to travel solo, and three in ten (31%) have already booked a solo holiday for 2023.
Given these growing trends in solo travel, savvy travel agents should take note and adapt their offerings to better cater to this market, providing options and packages tailored explicitly for solo travellers.
The travel industry is showing promising signs of recovery and growth, as reflected in the Resfinity booking engine data. While challenges such as inflationary pressures and rising prices persist, there is a clear opportunity for travel agents to tap into the growing market of solo travellers. By understanding and adapting to these evolving trends, travel retailers can unlock new avenues for success.
So, with that in mind, let's take a closer look at Resfinity's booking data to see what else we can learn.
In May 2023, ANIXE's data revealed that global bookings maintained the same level as in April while remaining 22% higher than in May 2019. The German market also showed resilience, being 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Although the numbers were 15% lower than the phenomenal first quarter of 2023, the upcoming summer holiday season is upon us, and our forecast is sunny with a chance of record-breaking bookings.
During May 2023, German travellers remained eager to travel and visited their preferred destinations, including Spain, Turkey, the United States, and domestic locations. Greece, Turkey, and the Netherlands experienced significant growth, with a whopping 70% increase compared to pre-pandemic times. Greece also saw a month-on-month increase of 40%.
Unfortunately, comparing booking share to pre-pandemic times doesn't paint a complete picture. Turkey, although up almost 70% since the pandemic's start, saw a modest decline of 6% this month compared with April 2023. Spain similarly showed signs of decline, with a drop of 7.7% since last month, and the U.S. saw its booking share drop reduced by 13.4%.
In May 2023, tourists could not resist the magnetic charm of Spain's Palma Majorca, Turkey's Antalya and Egypt's Hurghada - consistently taking the top three spots among holiday goers. However, Antalya's appeal has waned somewhat, seeing a significant 12% drop in monthly popularity. In contrast, compared to pre-pandemic, both Hurghada and Antalya impressed with growth up 136% and 52%, respectively, compared to 2019 figures.
On the other hand, Las Vegas, Barcelona and Berlin lost their shine, experiencing sharp declines in popularity since April (22.5%, 20.3% and 5.6%, respectively), and on a three-year basis - Las Vegas is down 23%, and Berlin, 37%. How will travel retailers adapt to these changes?
With the arrival of May 2023, German explorers increasingly preferred Hurghada, Side and Berlin. The Egyptian resort, in particular, scored an 8.5% increase compared with April and increased by nearly 60% compared to May 2019.
The most significant month-on-month declines in popularity were seen for Barcelona (20.2%), Las Vegas (19.7%) and Istanbul (17.4%). Compared to the pre-pandemic period, Playa De Palma (247%) and London (103%) declined the most regarding overall orders booked.
Short trips have always been popular in our booking engine, whether a 1-2 day adventure or a quiet week-long getaway. This sustained popularity continued in May, with demand for short trips fluctuating slightly. However, it was not enough to knock them off the top spots. Day trips still remain 20.5% below pre-pandemic levels, and 2-4 day trips remain at a modest 12% below, meaning that we expect to see further increases in popularity in the future.
In May 2023, German travellers were keen to undertake their next adventures, planning for their future getaways with a strong interest in bookings for more than 60 days in advance. These forward-looking bookings accounted for nearly 43% of all bookings, although they were 9% lower than in April.
However, this decline was offset by a significant 38% increase in the allure of tours with 8-14 day booking windows. As for last-minute (0-1) thrill seekers, their share may be the smallest, but it remains 18% higher than in the pre-pandemic era.
Resfinity's booking data consistently shows that dynamic duos and solo travellers remain the most popular. However, there has been a 5.5% increase in Solo bookings since April 2023. Despite this growth, single bookings are still approximately 11% lower than pre-pandemic levels. The numbers show that there is clear room for further growth, but what is unclear is if the return to business travel drives this trend or if more solo tourists seek individual adventure.
ANIXE's Resfinity booking data reveals a continuing trend: one- and two-person travellers prefer accommodations offering breakfast or a no-meal option. As a result, rooms with a Bed and Breakfast option are the most popular, capturing as much as 47.5% of bookings last month. This impressive figure, however, falls short of the pre-pandemic rate by 9%, leaving considerable room for growth. Interestingly, all-inclusive and all-inclusive ultra room bookings saw a decline last month. Are travellers being priced out of all-inclusive options and choosing lower-cost alternatives?
At the end of the summer season, Resfinity's data detected a subtle price increase in the German market between May-April 2023. The lower prices we witnessed between March and April are long gone. Booking costs are up nearly 24% per capita compared to just four years ago. Meanwhile, prices have risen by a staggering 31% in the global arena. So while holidayers are paying more, they are receiving less as the decreased bookings for all-inclusive and all-inclusive ultra shows. This isn't just inflation; it's 'shrinkflation'.
While there has been a slight decrease in bookings compared to the unprecedented first quarter of 2023, the numbers still reflect a substantial increase compared to the pre-pandemic period.
However, challenges such as inflation and rising prices persist. Hotel rooms, dining out, and car rentals have seen notable increases, requiring travellers to budget accordingly and opt for cheaper meal plans. On the bright side, there is a growing trend in solo travel, presenting an opportunity for travel agents to cater to this market segment by offering tailored options and packages.
Summer 2023 is set to repeat the growth we have seen since the end of the pandemic, but can the last-minute bookers push the market to outperform our fantastic first quarter?
Solo travellers now’s your time to shine.
Stay tuned. Stay safe. Plan your trips. Team ANIXE
(Data origin: ANIXE Resfinity Booking Engine. Data originated from the ANIXE Resfinity IBE travel system.)