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08 FEB 2022

ANIXE Insights 2022.02: Seven Weeks of Continuous, Sustained Growth!

We’re slowly approaching the year 2 PC (Post Covid). The New Normal that media channels spoke of is no longer a notion; it’s something we live and breathe every day. The smell of your polyester or cloth mask. Feeling your breath create small beads of precipitation and perspiration around your mouth and nose. Taking a step back if your buddy gets too excited in a conversation and steps forward. Rubbing your hands vigorously with alcohol after an hour at the supermarket.

These have all become second nature for most of us, like driving a car. The New Normal has ingrained a new set of rules in our minds that now sit in our subconscious and dictate our actions, even before we attempt anything. We’ve been reconditioned with built-in pre-emptive measures that are intended to help us survive, help us live side by side with Covid, and manage to lead somewhat normal lives. After all, the show must go on.

As we’ve previously concluded, the general population is becoming more mentally resilient by the day, and the virus has given us a helping hand. Omicron may be what we’ve all been waiting for. A super-infectious strain of Covid that is incredibly mild, which in the words of a doctor, is what the medical establishment has been trying to simulate with the global vaccination programs. In short, Omicron appears to be a blessing from the heavens and could be the end of all this madness. And people love it!

We can confirm this thesis using reports from the Resfinity Booking Engine on the number of inquiries and bookings made by a considerable group of the world's largest tour operators and online travel agencies.

January 2022 was a month of dynamic rebound after December 2021, the epicentre of the impact of the 5th wave of the Covid pandemic. Of course, the market didn't shake out, but its travel production volume was down to 22% from December 2019. Fortunately, the new year brought a wind of much-needed positive change and market recovery. The global markets increased to around 42% of January 2020. Turnover is starting to build up, and it's only the beginning of the year.

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Since February 1st, new travel recommendations from the Council of the European Union have been in effect in EU countries. The new recommendations stipulate that the criteria for imposing additional obligations on visitors should be based on the status of the person travelling rather than where they come from. In practice, this means that the fully vaccinated and the recovered travel more freely in the community. Amazing news! On the other hand, the unvaccinated can show their PCR test results. Nevertheless, the final decision on entry regulations lies with the individual countries. Some of them, such as Italy, have already adjusted their border-crossing rules to the new recommendations.

The source of the growing demand for travel abroad can be attributed to several factors: the above-mentioned drive of the European Union to introduce and update regulations facilitating safe and free movement in the countries of the community, sanitary protocols established by the governments of individual countries, the increasing availability of vaccinations - including a third dose for teenagers, as well as the adjustment of tour operators' offers to the current situation. Customers of travel agencies can change the date of departure for free, even dozens of days before the trip, or buy travel insurance that includes coverage against COVID-19. All this makes European tourists not only more confident in booking - even months in advance to take advantage of discounts and promotions - but also more stable in their purchasing decisions. Furthermore, the industry's support of holiday planners in the form of numerous guarantees to the end consumer gives everyone a sense of security. As a result, customers are much less likely to look for opportunities to make changes to their bookings than just a few weeks ago.

In January 2021, _Germans targeted Spain, Turkey and domestic destinations. The former, in particular, were very popular, and their share increased significantly both on a monthly basis (9%) and compared to the January before the pandemic (38%).

Interestingly, the share of holiday destinations such as Greece, Turkey and Egypt remained significantly higher than in the corresponding period in 2019 and from a monthly perspective. However, the same can’t be said for domestic spots, which, although they maintain high numbers, have lower growth than in previous periods.

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The first days of the new year have encouraged German travellers to make reservations for Spain's Palma Mallorca, Egypt's Hurghada and Turkey's Antalya, which showed an increase in popularity of over 22%. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for local destinations or big-city routes such as Istanbul, Dubai and Paris, whose share has seen significant falls compared to the end of 2021.

Likewise, the list lacked the top-rated destinations of January 2020 - Las Vegas, New York and London. As a result, their share in 2022 - despite their strong positions - fell by 25% for the first two destinations and by almost 70% for the latter.

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The two most popular destination cities in January 2022 for German travellers are Hurghada and Istambul. In particular, the Egyptian resort saw a significant 202% increase in popularity, as did Side and Rome, although their share of bookings was ultimately not as spectacular.

Compared to the situation two years ago, i.e. January 2020 - the most significant increase in holiday popularity was also seen in Istambul and Hurghada. On the other hand, the most considerable decrease in the share of 10 top-rated destinations of the Resfinity Booking Engine 01.2020 was in Vienna, London and Berlin.

It looks like less ski trips and more beach getaways this winter.

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German travellers have enjoyed trips lasting about a week for the past six months. However, the outbreak of the 5th wave and the upcoming winter holidays have decreased the popularity of shorter trips. It is not a typical situation considering that just two years ago, in the first month of 2020, the most popular trips among German tourists were one-day (20%) and two-day stays (16.2%).

In January 2022 - just like two years ago - interest in early booking offers (over 60 days) is dominant, relegating bookings made 0-4 weeks in advance. In the last period, this trend was confirmed, and people eagerly made their reservations, feeling confident to plan travel in a safer post-pandemic world and opting to wait for warmer climates.

In fact, the booking curve we see this year almost looks normal. Fingers crossed!

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The trend showing the profile and size of the statistical group of travellers is also confirmed. Current indications are roughly in line with those from 2 years ago. Dominating are groups of 2 people and singles. Surprisingly, the share of single bookings in January 2022 was 15,4% lower than in December 2021 and 12,3% lower than in January 2020. Coronavirus restrictions certainly played a significant role in this.

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ANIXE's Resfinity travel industry data shows that the decrease in business travel (single trips) is matched by the fall in the popularity of rooms with breakfast only or even no meals. It also reflects the situation in the same period before the pandemic, where the popularity of rooms in the HB (Half Board) and AI (All-Inclusive) was significantly lower than it is now - accordingly by 60% and 30%.

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As far as prices are concerned, after some pandemic price drops in Dec. 2021, hotel prices started to increase - both on a monthly and biannual basis. On the one hand, this is the effect of the hotel sector's desire to make up for losses as prices respond to changes in demand. On the other hand, the high level of inflation, which is weighing on both European and global economies, can significantly impact price differences in a two-year perspective. It all adds up to a picture of rising prices in the market, which can do little to dampen the overwhelming demand for package holidays.

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The new year has opened a new chapter in our lives and a hot new season for the travel industry. It's brought us many positive indicators for the coming months thus far. It looks like it will be a good spring season for travel, encouraging us all to make our travel plans for the coming months. There are many indications that we'll be able to realize many of our postponed plans this year and finally go on that much-awaited getaway!

Will this positive dynamic and impressive growth trend continue? We sure hope so! What destinations will be the top sellers for Spring 2022? Will availability become an issue this summer?! Really?! Well, to find out, please stay tuned to your single source of reliable travel trends and statistics – ANIXE Insights.

Stay tuned. Stay safe. Plan your trips.

(Data origin: ANIXE Resfinity Booking Engine. Data originated from the ANIXE Resfinity IBE travel system.)

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