We’re not going to dwell on the fact that COVID and the two lockdowns have changed the world, the way we travel, plan and engage with experiences. You’ve heard all that before. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that travel is back, baby. In bigger, better, brand new ways.
So, what can you expect from this booming industry in 2023? Well, we’re breaking down 11 top travel and days out trends that are set to emerge or flourish in 2023.
1. We're holidaying at home - but what's the staycation all about in 2023?
The staycation is here to stay, guys, thanks to the cost of travel and complicated logistics around leaving the country. And that’s not to mention the newfound appreciation the last couple of years has given us for what we have on our doorstep in the UK.
Classics like the Scottish Highlands and Yorkshire Dales remain firm favourites, but spots like Windsor are seeing some action too. Recent royal goings-on are likely to blame with The King’s Coronation in May 2023 set to drive even more interest.
Flexible accommodation is the key. Staycationers want pet-friendly digs that are close to public transport, in easy reach of a range of free and paid-for attractions and experiences. Not a big ask, right?
And, sure, a big selling point of the staycation is cost effectiveness but nearly 70% of travellers are spending more on their experiences – the aim isn’t budget days out, it’s about going big and maximising the value, memories and special moments on every trip. Travellers are also willing to pay a premium to get great customer service, especially when it comes to transport and accommodation.
2. Why are immersive experiences so popular?
Immersive experiences are on the up as we crave new ways that force us to step away from the screens. We can see why - the average adult spends up to 5 hours a day on their smart phone. Yikes.
The UK is awash with emerging immersive days out for kids and adults alike, from escape rooms, augmented reality, virtual reality and retro gaming, through to licensed IP experiences from popular TV shows and movies like Squid Games and Stranger things. Even long-standing traditional attractions like museums and galleries are finding new ways to create more accessible and interactive experiences.
If you’re looking for this kind of thing, the big cities are the hotspots but more are springing up elsewhere by the day. A huge amount of influencer has come from US-based experiences like Meow Wolf in which visitors are transported into an undefined reality where they can create the story, experience and outcome. What’s not to like?
You can read more about immersive experiences from industry experts Arival and find out more about digital and immersive travel trends by signing up to the Blooloop newsletter.
3. Accessibility and sensory days out
One trend we’re delighted to see is the rise in attractions and experiences accommodating adults and children with a range of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), as well as those who are neurodivergent or have sensory needs.
From ‘quiet times’ with no sounds of music to additional sensory experiences including colour, sound and touch, making days out more accessible is an overdue topic of conversation finally seeing some traction.
Physical accessibility remains of great importance too with wheelchair use, mobility challenges, buggy-friendly days out, and other considerations around use of space, lifts, steps and viewing being prioritised. We’re expecting more investment and better communication in this area, as accessibility remains key in customers’ decision making.
When it comes to accessible tourism, the industry is striving to create experiences that people can enjoy independently with equity and dignity.
4. Random travel
Emerging from Japan, ‘random travel’ or serendipitous travel sees people craving the chance to step out of their comfort zone in favour of a culture shock.
The name of the game here is new experiences, adrenaline fuelled adventures, learning a skill or pushing yourself physically or mentally. This could be as simple as an escape room, letting a friend book the day out and not knowing what’s in store, or, for those wanting to fully immerse themselves in random travel, seeking out an option where you simply sign up and anything could be possible. Airlines and rail companies are also jumping on the trend by offering discounted tickets with the catch that you don’t know where you’re going!
Want more of a global view on travel trends? Check out Skift for travel industry news.
5. Finding social connection through travel
Ok, so we’re all for stepping away from the smartphone but social connection is still hugely important, and more and more travel and tourism brands are integrating it into their experience. Us included.
The ability to share photos, tips and hacks from your days out will remain important (even as we all try to put our phones down). Connecting people in real-time to ask questions and share their ‘must do’s’ so that others can maximise the value of their experience will become an expectation – replacing long-form content, review sites and ratings.
6. TV-themed days out
Netflix, Now TV, Sky, Prime – whichever network is responsible for your current watch, the rise in TV and film-themed days out can’t be disputed. Stranger Things, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Squid Games, you name it, there’s a day out for it.
And, that won’t be changing any time soon. We’re going to see more of these pop up as entertainment franchises look to make their content more experiential. And we’re not talking about the Coronation Street walking tour – these experiences are on a much bigger scale.
7. Sustanability & responsible travel
Sustainability, the buzz word to end all buzz words. We talk about it constantly, but most Brits are still confused about what it means to travel or enjoy days out sustainably and how they can take responsibility for looking after our planet while doing so.
Thinking about your mode of transportation is an easy place to start. Of course, walking takes the top spot but it’s not always an option unless you live somewhere with amazing attractions right outside your door (lucky you). Car sharing and using public transport (when there isn’t a strike) both help to offset the emissions that most petrol and diesel cars produce – and sometimes save on cost too.
But what else falls in sustainable tourism and how can you tell if attractions are genuinely working on sustainability? Look for messaging around food waste, outdoor spaces, use of natural products, information on offseting carbon emissions and support of other green initiatives.
Did you know, Bewilderwood was the first environmentally friendly day out in the UK?
Find out more about responsible travel in the WTM hub.
8. How do we add layers to experiences?
This one is a no brainer, really.
Everyone’s going to be looking to squeeze every last bit of value out of experiences as the cost-of-living bites. Attractions will be focussing heavily on maximising value by adding additional layers of interactivity to their days out. That could be a VIP experience, behind the scenes access or an all-you-can-eat buffet thrown in.
Giving customers the opportunity to invest more into an experience and get more out of it. This can be seen in tiered pricing options, from basic entry right through to exclusive animal feeding experiences.
9. Dry day outs (AKA, booze-free)
We love a cocktail after work on a Thursday as much as the next person, but increasing numbers of young people are cutting back on the booze and seeking out alcohol-free experiences. Yep, it’s not all about the bottomless brunch anymore. Hands-on, educational experiences like cookery workshops, craft sessional and immersive experiences are all rocketing up the bucket list for 2023. We’ve even got a guide to sober dates that are anything but boring.
10. How much tourism does the Royal Family generate?
The myriad royal goings-on over 2021 and 2022 - with the Queen’s Jubilee and then her sad passing - means that royal relevance is a top consideration for days out. And with the King’s Coronation in 2023, key locations will be tourism hotspots in the year ahead. From London, Windsor and Edinburgh, to Sandringham and Balmoral, there are lots of different days out and locations across the UK with Royal connections.
Wondering how much tourism the royal family generates? Well around 3 million people visit the royal residences each year and is predicted that will grow to over 4 million in 2023, with revenues per year exceeding £60,000,000.
Find out how VisitBritain are encouraging more people to visit the UK and it’s vast array of visitor attractions.
11. Wellbeing focussed travel
People are increasingly prioritising experiences over material possessions, a trend that’s spearheaded by Gen Z and Millennials. Young audiences are turning to travel as a mode to explore well-being and are seeking spontaneous ‘wellness travel’.
Experiences that promote wellness, refocus the mind and bring a digital detox from daily life will all see growth. Immersing yourself in activities that promote mental health, volunteering, spirituality and mindfulness is the wellness trend to look out for.
**What type of days out and experiences are on your list for 2023? We’d love to know – have we missed any must do’s?
Interested in more industry data and trends for travel in 2023? The Visitor Attraction Conference is a great source of information via their events.
At daysout.com, you can book the UK’s best attractions (y’know the proper FOMO inducing ones?) -- we know where’s perfect for you. Find your next adventure.