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Top Travel Trend for 2023: The pursuit of happiness

Nearly all people (97%) feel happier when they have a trip to look forward to

If 2022 was the year for mindful travel, making up for lost time and ticking off the bucket list, 2023 will be the year for planning travel as a tool to achieve personal happiness.

So says founder of The Happiness Institute and newly appointed Resident Happiness Expert for Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites, Dr Tim Sharp who shares the reasons why the search for happiness will be a key travel trend in 2023.

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While people may think that rising living costs take travel off the agenda, Dr Sharp says there is no need for travel to be extensive for it to have a positive impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. 

Dr Tim Sharp

The pursuit of happiness

Rather than Ferraris, Fendi and fine dining, the reason travel is such a significant contributor to our happiness is simpler things, such as ‘taking time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, creating opportunities to try new things, and sharing experiences and making connections with friends and family’.

“Research shows that travel taps into some of the key principles of happiness because it’s intrinsically linked to embracing new experiences and breaking out of our usual routines. Trying new things gives us the good feels and creates opportunities to learn and gain confidence, which in turn reduces stress and boosts our mood and satisfaction levels – contributing to that overall happy feeling,” Dr Sharp said.

“Even the initial step of researching and booking time away creates the joy of anticipation, with an incredible 97 percent of people confirming they feel happier when they have a trip to look forward to, and 71 percent of people saying they feel energised when they have travel coming up within six months, proving that holidays are a fantastic way to help people feel hopeful, optimistic and have something to look forward to – all of which improve your personal wellbeing.”

Minor Hotels’ Head of Commercial for Australia and New Zealand, John Thompson agreed, noting that the company’s new brand platform Happy Folks Choose Oaks centres around the same philosophy, that simple things such as a weekend staycation in your own city, a road trip to a regional destination, or a coastal getaway with family and friends were central to happy stays for the company’s guests.

Happy Family

Oaks Hotels’ top travel trends for 2023:

Longer booking windows

According to Mr Thompson, there’s no doubt that the surge in the popularity of domestic travel during the pandemic has prompted Australians to re-think how far ahead they book travel, with Oaks Hotels reservations data showing lead times have been steadily rising with lead times having been the longest in September since pre-COVID times.  

More people are planning their travel beyond the traditional ‘high seasons’ extending the usual parameters due to increased demand from leisure travellers who are booking early to avoid disappointment, especially for stays during peak school holiday and Christmas periods.

Plus, with the array of airline deals to take advantage of, it is little surprise people are keen to plan ahead to counter rising costs.

The new long weekend

Say goodbye to the traditional three-day long weekend, it’s just not enough, especially with more Australians already choosing to work from home on Fridays and Mondays.

According to Mr Thompson, there’s a definite trend towards extended long weekends, with travellers increasingly booking stays from Friday through to Monday instead of the conventional Friday/Saturday weekend getaways of old. The flexibility of remote and hybrid working – and our growing intolerance for hectic airports (Friday night, Sunday night, Monday morning) and peak-hour traffic.

Value has never been more important

While rising interest rates and inflation impacting many household budgets, it’s not bursting our travel bubble, Mr Thompson said,  with people instead looking for greater value from their stays.

“Whether that’s looking for large apartment style accommodation to accommodate the entire family, opting to drive rather than fly to domestic destinations, or choosing accommodation with fully-equipped kitchens to avoid eating every meal out and about, people still want to make up for missed holidays and they’re choosing to put value first when selecting where to stay.”

Self-drive holidays are here to stay

Following reports of airport chaos, lost baggage, cancellations and soaring prices, Australians are swapping the cabin for the car and continuing the COVID-inspired love affair with self-drive holidays.

From being able to stop and explore along the way to the benefits of loading up the luggage and kids’ paraphernalia in the boot for families travelling with little ones, there’s a lot to love about walking out the front door, hopping behind the wheel and starting your holiday, and with plenty of properties easily accessible from major interstate and intrastate road.

Offering an extensive range of over 55 properties across Australia and New Zealand, there is bound to be an Oaks property within driving distance to many travellers.

Growth in group travel

There’s still plenty of steam left in the missed milestones travel mindset, says Thompson, who noted that multigenerational stays and group getaways to celebrate significant anniversaries and birthdays are showing no sign of slowing down.

“Our properties offering inter-connected rooms, or large three-bedroom apartment-style accommodation are in hot demand for celebration travel, which often sees grandparents, parents and children all staying together in the one apartment, or in adjoining rooms to enjoy their own space but with easy access for group meals or relaxing in a living space after dinner,” he said.

“The ‘gramping’ trend is also gaining momentum, with increasingly fit and active grandparents volunteering to take their grandkids away for a week during school holidays, or a long weekend, to spend quality time together, re-connect after time apart, and give busy parents a well-earned break.”

Work + play in the new getaway

Bleisure travel is back, with widespread remote and hybrid working arrangements opening the door for travellers to extend leisure stays, whether that’s a weekend away or a week-long escape, with a few days working from the holiday location.

“One of the hallmarks of many of our properties is separate living and sleeping spaces, as well as designated desks which make it easy for travellers to work from their room – or balcony with a view – during the day, then skip out for a swim, surf or stroll after hours to extend that holiday feeling,” Mr Thompson said.

“Corporate travel saw peak booking numbers during October 2022, with bookings continuing to grow month-on-month as business travel gains momentum, with booking for longer duration during key holiday periods, indicating that corporate stays are being extended for leisure travel.”



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