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UAE-headquartered Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotels brands, has identified five clear global travel trends for 2023.

A recent survey of its GHA DISCOVERY loyalty programme members revealed travel sentiment for the year ahead is extremely positive, with most respondents being comfortable with the thought of travelling internationally. Members are more likely to travel for leisure than business next year, with some planning up to six getaways.

Japan has emerged as the preferred country to visit in 2023, named on top of all leisure travel hotspots, although the majority of members plan to travel mostly within their own regions. The US, Oceania, and Thailand round out the other top destinations. The chance to ‘see and experience new things’ is the main travel motivation as well as the chance to spend time with family and friends, while cities are the most desirable holiday hotspots for 2023, followed by beach destinations.

Location, price and loyalty programme are the top three factors influencing hotel and accommodation choices next year, while discounts and savings, as well as perks such as room upgrades, all of which are core benefits of the GHA DISCOVERY programme, are crucial to enriching their hotel experience.

“Trends revealed in our survey paint a very positive picture for leisure travel in 2023, with our members signalling an overwhelming desire to globetrot, try new experiences and connect with family and friends, building on the momentum of this past year,” said GHA VP Kristi Gole. “The results are particularly encouraging against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty and with members telling us value for money and loyalty programme benefits are now most influencing their hotel booking decisions.

“The reimagination of GHA DISCOVERY, launched a year ago, becomes even more relevant, with our new digital rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars (D$), adding more value to each stay. D$ are earned on spend across the hotel and are redeemable at time of checkout toward room charges, dining, spa, and a host of curated experiences. With more than D$57M now in circulation, thanks to a bumper 2022, our 22 million members can action their 2023 travel plans, choosing from any of GHA 800-plus hotels in leading destinations around the world.”


Longing for leisure, with up to six trips planned

Travel sentiment is extremely positive with more than half of respondents in every market comfortable with the thought of travelling internationally in 2023. The most bullish markets are the UK with 85% of member respondents intending to travel internationally followed by the UAE and Singapore with 83% and 81% respectively. Across all countries, members are more likely to travel for leisure than business next year, planning on average between four and six leisure trips versus two to four business trips. In terms of frequency of trips, members from China and Germany expect to travel the most next year, with 6.1 and 5.9 leisure trips as well as 4.8 and 4.5 business trips anticipated respectively.

Japan surprises, regional travel dominates

Japan has emerged as a preferred country to visit in 2023, named in the top four leisure travel hotspots by members across countries globally. Members plan to mainly travel within their own regions again next year, particularly those based in China, most likely due to ongoing travel restrictions, as well as Singapore, Thailand, the US and the UAE. Australians are remaining in Oceania for business but heading to Asia for leisure; members from the UK and Malaysia are looking to Europe for business trips and Asia for vacations; Canadians are favouring Europe for business but North America for leisure; and Germans prefer North America for business visits and Europe for holidays.

Experiences count, as does family time in buzzing cities

When asked what they were most looking forward to when travelling for leisure in 2023, members in every market said ‘seeing and experiencing new things’, with ‘spending time with family and friends’ the second most popular response. Not many plan to travel with pets, but Europe is the region most comfortable with that. Members from most countries plan to travel with a ‘spouse or partner’ or ‘immediate family’ and show a clear preference for cities – the preferred location for leisure trips for members followed by beach/tropical destinations. Mountain and countryside locations were on their travel radar, but not as popular.

Specific destinations favoured globally include cities such as Tokyo, Bangkok, London, Paris, and Singapore, while Chinese members favour Beijing, Shanghai, and Sanya. Countries like the Maldives, Switzerland, Bali, Canada, Spain and Australia also stood out. Within the US, California, New York and Hawaii were favourites.

Location, location, location – and value

Location and price will be the top two factors influencing hotel and accommodation choices in 2023, indicating that travellers from most markets are value conscious. Reinforcing the popularity and success of GHA DISCOVERY, the hotel loyalty programme was named the third most important factor impacting decision making. Quality of accommodation is also in the mix, ranked highly by members from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and UAE when selecting properties for leisure stays next year.

A love for loyalty

Staying with the loyalty theme, across all regions respondents prefer to use hotel loyalty programme channels to research accommodation choices, moreso than online travel agents or brands’ or hotels’ own websites, and see the loyalty programme as a close second for preferred booking channel after the hotel’s direct website. This not only reflects the user-friendliness of the GHA DISCOVERY mobile app and website, but GHA’s extraordinary collection of 40-plus independent hotel brands with more than 800 properties in 100 countries across the globe, all in one stop.

When asked ‘If you are a member of a hotel’s loyalty programme, what is most important to you regarding your hotel experience?’, members named discounts or savings as the most important aspect, followed by hotel benefits such as a room upgrade.

The GHA survey, launched to understand the 2023 travel plans of GHA DISCOVERY members, was conducted in October and November 2022.

For more information visit Global Hotel Alliance and GHA DISCOVERY