Clear beach sand and water with sun setting in background.

Truths About Summer Travel

September 29, 2023
6 min read

With the summer season comes an influx in travel, and in recent years we have seen a clash of two forces: the desire to travel outside of the country versus a cost of living crisis forcing households to reconsider their budget for a summer holiday.

Mintel has identified five key truths about summer travel that are essential for brands to understand in order to stay relevant and capture consumer attention amidst the changing tourism landscape. We have identified a similar trend across the UK and US travel industry with consumers following similar behaviour patterns.

Truth 1: People Are Going To Travel

Travel may look a little different from traditional lavish hotels and luxury destinations but travellers don’t want to miss out on their summer holiday entirely. As revealed in our Vacation Plans and Priorities Report, 56% of US consumers plan to travel within the states over the next 12 months. This data is mirrored in our Sustainability in Travel Report where over half of UK consumers said they plan to travel within the UK over the next three years. This may not come as a surprise with the current cost of living crisis and the increased cost of flights forcing people to consider domestic travel.

Despite financial constraints, only 1 in ten UK consumers have said that they are not planning to take a holiday in the next three years. Mintel’s research shows that people are still willing to travel, but they are adopting more cost-effective methods of doing so such as cheaper and closer to home destinations.

Truth 2: Travellers Will Spend

The question is, on what? With holiday costs rising, our Holiday Planning and Booking Process Report revealed that 6 out of 10 people say a low-price holiday is the most important factor when booking a holiday. This is most likely due to having to spend more money on the holiday itself as a result of the rising costs, rather than spending on holiday luxuries; including dining out, excursions, souvenirs, and other holiday expenses. Despite fundamental travel costs increasing, 18% of people expect to take more holidays (period: April 2022-September 2022) compared to the previous period. Following the pandemic, where consumers were unable to travel internationally, we have seen an increase in people’s attitudes towards wanting to travel. Consumers are aware of increased costs but are still willing to spend the money to enjoy a relaxing break away from home. 

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Truth 3: Low Fares Are Back in Focus

With travel costs ever increasing, consumers are looking for ways to save money wherever they can while still being able to enjoy themselves and have a well-earned holiday. Whether looking at cheaper accommodation, flying at off-peak times, or travelling to closer destinations, consumers are comparing prices more than ever before. 

Over 60% of consumers said it is important to stick to a strict holiday budget and are incentivised by a guaranteed low price. Travellers are paying more attention to accommodation prices and opting for cheaper alternatives to still be able to travel. This is similar within the airline industry where the Mintel Airlines UK Report found that 67% of people in the UK view low prices as a factor influencing their choice of airline. This presents an opportunity for travel brands and airlines to address their pricing strategy by offering discounts or promotions to entice consumers to book. Best price guarantees could further instil purchase confidence. 

Truth 4: Road Trips Are Increasing in Popularity

With the cost of flying at a high, especially for families, people are choosing to travel within their home country and opting for a road trip over flying internationally. 52% of people said they have less money to spend on travel, as identified in our UK Airlines Report. Still wanting to have a fun holiday, RVs and motorhomes are a great way to have a break outside of your home, travel and see fun sights. During the pandemic, RV sales skyrocketed; with all these new owners likely to still have their vehicles, travellers are getting out to explore nearby destinations. Our Consumer Attitudes to Staycations vs. Holidays Abroad report revealed that 1 in 5 people are planning a camping or caravan holiday in the next 12 months. As such, we should expect to see an increase in campground and state and national park bookings. 

Couple in a car smiling, on a road trip
Couple smiling in a car on a road trip. Source: GettyImages

Truth 5: Hotels Should Expect More Short-Term Bookings

As more travellers search for cost-saving solutions, shorter trips have become increasingly popular. Opting for shorter breaks can help consumers save money on hotels, food, and excursions. Savvy travellers can also take advantage of last-minute deals to find a great holiday at an affordable price. Last-minute weekend trips, mid-week deals, and shorter summer holidays will favour cheaper prices and allow people to still travel. This trend has been gaining momentum since before the pandemic; a five percentage point increase in hotel reservations made within 48 hours of check-in (from 9% to 14% of bookings) has been observed between 2019 and 2022. To assist cost-conscious consumers, hotel brands could add a ‘save money’ button to show the most effective way to save costs per search result, such as the amount saved by shortening the holiday by a day or choosing a different departure day.

What We Think

Mintel’s research reveals that despite the ongoing financial difficulties, those who want a break, enjoy travelling, or are in need of a relaxing summer will still book a holiday; though what this holiday looks like may differ. Many people are opting for cheaper hotels or an Airbnb, as well as researching and using price comparison tools to find the cheapest flights and destinations. While we don’t anticipate a substantial decrease in the number of travel bookings, the form these bookings take might be different to what we saw pre-pandemic.

Is your business responding to the evolving attitudes and preferences of holidaymakers? With Mintel’s leading independent market and consumer research, you can focus your strategies to align with the latest trends and developments in the global travel industry. Explore our Holidays and Travel Market Research, or fill out the form below to sign up for Spotlight, Mintel’s free newsletter for exclusive insights.

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