Over the past three years, our lives have seen a lot of disruption. For many, the pandemic has created new routines, and with that, the freedom to try new things.
These sentiments will carry into 2023; according to most consumers, now is the time to take the leap and book those long-delayed travel plans. Though many describe their years living through the pandemic as negative, it’s apparent that they have a positive outlook on the future — seeing opportunity, joy, and reconnection ahead.
SEIZING THE DAY BY PLANNING TRAVEL - AND MILLENNIALS ARE IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
As our country emerges from the pandemic, travel planning is picking up. Travel plans are highest for in-state travel, followed by domestic overnight trips, and international travel.
Generationally, Millennials are most likely to be planning travel, with nearly 1 in 3 planning international travel, and half planning to travel domestically (to another state). In comparison, Gen Z is least likely to be planning travel in the next 12 months: 1 in 5 intend to travel internationally, and 1 in 3 domestically (to another state).
TRAVELERS ARE SEEKING DESTINATIONS NEW AND OLD
There will be a fair amount of “repeat” travel this year (to places they know, but likely haven’t gotten to visit in a while). Consumers are eager to recapture the positive memories associated with their pre-Covid travel. That said, half of those planning trips are exiting the isolation of the Covid years and venturing out someplace new.
INCLUSIVE TRAVEL AS A MEANS OF RECONNECTION AND REAWAKENING
While budget will always be a main driver, travel consumers are now looking for a number of things while planning a trip. A major factor is inclusion; people want to visit places that feel inclusive and welcoming, which is nearly as important as the amount they may pay for a trip. Surprisingly, this is a bigger driver for Millennials and Gen X, even more so than Gen Z.
Once travelers know they will feel welcomed at their destination, they look forward to fully immersing themselves in their surroundings. After two years of boredom and isolation, travelers are seeking an opportunity to reconnect with everything from nature and the outdoors to good food and the arts. They’re also eager to widen their perspective and learn about the history and culture of communities different from their own.
INFLATION MAY CHANGE PLANS, BUT WON’T CANCEL THEM
While 4 in 5 did admit that inflation may stymie travel, the vast majority of travelers will simply travel locally and seek out alternative prices. Most are not willing to give up a trip because of cost.
THE THRILLIST AUDIENCE IS GETTING BACK OUT THERE
When asked to choose between the two statements:
I feel I’m less motivated to engage with the outside world
I feel a renewed sense of energy and urgency to engage with the outside world
Thrillist consumers are twice as likely to feel that renewed sense of urgency to engage. (61% versus 31%).
This data doesn’t just reflect a general mindset but highlights a unique set of behaviors. Thrillist consumers are more apt to travel, spend time with people, participate in local activities, and consume more goods and services at a much higher rate.
AN AUDIENCE OF JETSETTERS
96% of Thrillist visitors expect to travel over the next 12 months. Half of Thrillist weekly visitors are specifically planning international travel, making them most likely to be planning international travel vs. any other audience. They are 2x more likely to be planning international travel than the average American over 18+, and over 3x more likely than non-weekly Thrillist visitors to be planning international travel.
Travel content from Thrillist – from curated lists of experiences, to our coverage of National Parks around the world, and so much more in between – is packed with the information and inspiration travelers crave and use while planning their next adventure.
WITH FAMILY IN TOW
Thrillist parents have no intention of leaving their kids at home when they travel. Over 2 in 5 Thrillist weekly visitors expect to travel with their kids and are nearly +40% more likely than non-visitors to want to show their kids an entirely different part of the world. There’s a giant opportunity for family-focused brands to convert new consumers by partnering with Thrillist on actionable travel content.
SEEKING TO BE IMMERSED IN NATURE & CULTURE
The Thrillist audience prioritizes travel that allows them to feel deeply immersed in nature and culture. Compared to non-weekly visitors, the Thrillist audience is more likely to seek picturesque, off-the-grid locations with lots of outdoor activities, and choose destinations that offer unique cultural and historical experiences.
TRUSTING THRILLIST FOR INCLUSIVE TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS
For Thrillist weekly visitors, having a destination be inclusive is just as important as offering loads of activities. Nearly 9 in 10 Thrillist weekly visitors will choose a destination based on where they feel personally welcome compared to 78% of non-visitors. Heeding this call for inclusivity, Thrillist has been developing travel guides that meet the distinct needs of specific communities, as opposed to publishing on-size-fits-all guidebooks. For example, We’re Out Here is an inclusive space that serves the LGBTQIA+ community’s travel needs, offering useful tips, personal stories, and planning inspiration.
This is just one example of how Thrillist publishes actionable content and tells meaningful stories to inspire the next generation of experience seekers. At Thrillist, we know our audience is hungrier to engage with the outside world, more likely to travel near and far, and more determined to immerse themselves in unique experiences that look nothing like the typical day-to-day. We embrace this mindset with open arms and fuel these behaviors by offering encouragement, recommendations, and useful advice for consumers to design their ideal, personalized itineraries for every trip.
Methodology: Vox Media surveyed 2,000 general consumers with our partner, The Circus: an insight and data storytelling consultancy that specializes in original trend research, thought leadership, and strategic brand positioning rooted in a human-data centric approach.