The State of Global Travel Q1 2022: Recovery and Growing Consumer Confidence

March 18, 2022 — 5 Minute Read

The travel category was one of the industries hit the hardest by COVID-19. However, two full years into the pandemic, consumer confidence in traveling is beginning to return in big ways. As governments around the world loosen their travel restrictions and infection rates subside in many countries, consumers are showing pent-up demand for travel following a long period of constraints. 

Tapping into our dataset of more than 2,000 travel players, we examined the current state of travel to help businesses keep a pulse on the latest trends shaping consumer behavior around the world. Below are just a few of the trends we uncovered. 

More travelers are booking flights, some even more frequently than before the pandemic. 

Bookings for air travel in countries such as Canada, Germany, and Spain haven’t quite returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, conditions have improved significantly since 2021. In Spain, for example, bookings for air travel during the week ending March 13 were up 267% compared to the same week last year. 

Meanwhile, many consumers are planning to travel by plane even more frequently than before the pandemic. Earlier this week, the Adobe Digital Economy Index announced that US bookings for domestic flights in February surpassed those for the same month in 2019.1 Our own data at Criteo revealed that US air bookings during the week ending March 13 were 1% above pre-pandemic levels.  

Many US consumers are willing to spend more money on their flights, too. When it comes to the dollar amount that US consumers spent on bookings last week, the average increased 35% against the same week in 2020. This increase in booking value reflects growing consumer demand paired with rising costs of gas.2 

Although Q1 air travel bookings indicate strong recovery in the travel category, the crisis in Ukraine has introduced some uncertainty in European travel. In early March, more than 30 countries closed their airspace to Russia. Additionally, airspace over Ukraine, Moldova, and parts of Belarus remain closed.3 

Despite recent events, Criteo data shows that air bookings were up 202% YoY last week in France, and an impressive 673% in the United Kingdom.

Travelers plan to get away more, and they’re diversifying the types of trips they take.  

Our latest Shopper Story 2022 report uncovered that about half of travelers around the world intend to take more vacations this year. 

Anticipating new and evolving travel guidelines has become a new norm that our world has become accustomed to, and consumers have shifted their travel habits accordingly. Our Shopper Story 2022 report uncovered that travelers are planning more trips that allow room for flexibility: About half of travelers plan to take more day trips, weekend trips, and domestic vacations.  

However, travelers still show strong interest in longer journeys, with about four in 10 planning to take more overseas vacations. 

Source: Criteo Consumer Sentiment Index, Global (Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, UK, US), November 2021, N=3805.

Consumers are showing their enthusiasm for travel through their purchases. 

Shoppers are eagerly getting back into travel this year by gearing up with new luggage. Criteo data from more than 1,100 US retailers who sell products in the Luggage & Bags category shows that February suitcase sales shot up 56% compared to one year prior.  

Source: Criteo YoY Product Category Trends Dashboard, United States, March 2022, N=1,100.

Our data shows that the desire for new luggage is a worldwide trend: Suitcase sales have skyrocketed in the United Kingdom (+190%), South Korea (+85%), and Japan (+59%).4  

Travel-related shopping doesn’t stop with new luggage; consumers are accessorizing too. In Brazil, February sales for travel bottles/containers increased by 22% year over year. In France, sales for luggage tags rose by 18%, and in South Korea, sales for luggage covers are up by 75%.4 

Harnessing commerce media to engage travelers  

While travelers should continue to diligently follow government guidelines and practice safety precautions during their getaways, the trends above point to a trajectory of recovery and growing hope that travel will come booming back. 

As the travel category continues to show improvement since the start of the pandemic, advertisers can prepare for continued growth by utilizing travel insights to enrich customer experiences in a new, ever-evolving reality. Keeping up with the latest trends can help businesses be ready for change on every front, from consumer behavior to preferences and products. Criteo insights are fueled by commerce data at scale, which empowers our clients and partners to adapt to potential challenges and invest in opportunities of tomorrow. 

Ready to take your campaigns to the next level with commerce media? Learn more about Criteo’s Commerce Media Platform 

For more consumer trends, insights, and advertising strategies, download our latest Shopper Story 2022 report. 

1Source: Adobe Digital Economy Index, Domestic flight bookings back to pre-pandemic levels 

2Source: Washington Post, How soaring gas prices are affecting the cost of flights 

3Source: CNN, How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could hurt travel’s recovery 

4Source: Criteo YoY Product Category Trends Dashboard, March 2022, Data from 6,800 retailers, worldwide

Elizabeth Kim

Elizabeth is a marketing writer obsessed with uncovering the ever-evolving ways that culture, technology, and commerce shapes consumer behavior. She is currently based in New York City and loves all things art, movies, and desserts.

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