The Orbitz "Look Back, Look Ahead" Insider Index identifies what got travelers moving in 2012 and projects top destinations and travel trends for the year ahead.
New Orleans, New Zealand and Charleston are projected to be among the top destinations this year in part due to new movie releases, national events and new hotel and flight offerings.
Hotspots for 2013:
New Orleans: After topping Travel+Leisure's Favorite Cities survey in 2012, New Orleans is primed for even bigger things in 2013. This year the Big Easy will host Super Bowl XLVII, the NCAA Women's Final Four, and countless food, music and lifestyle festivals appealing to all types of travelers. Expanded flight and hotel options – plus a $90 million road improvement project – will make it that much easier for travelers to take in all the city has to offer. "We expect 2013 to be a banner year for travel in New Orleans thanks to a diverse lineup of events, new hotels like the Hotel Indigo in the Garden District, and major airlines adding nonstop service," said Jerrold Broussard , New Orleans destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.
New Zealand: Americans will be heading Down Under this year in search of Bilbo Baggins among the hillside villages and snow-capped slopes of New Zealand. 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,' the first film in a trilogy that will include two more releases in 2013 and 2014, will keep an international media spotlight on the destination. Tourism New Zealand reports that interest in the destination skyrocketed before the release of the movie with Hobbit-related searches increasing 265% in November 2012. "New Zealand has so much to offer and you don't have to be a 'Lord of the Rings' fan to appreciate the country's historic Maori culture, witness its unique wildlife, sample the amazing selection of local wineries, and try out any number of adventure sports, most notably, bungee jumping," said Nic Bryant , New Zealand destination expert and senior regional director for Orbitz Worldwide. "Tourism to New Zealand is expected to grow about 4 percent each year over the next five years. The destination will also be more accessible to U.S. travelers with increased nonstop flight service from the West Coast."
Charleston: With a trophy shelf stocked with recent travel awards, Charleston is a must-visit in 2013. Getting to the historic southern city will be even easier for those on the east coast with JetBlue adding direct flights from New York and Boston starting late February. "The city is known for its rich history, well-preserved architecture, a thriving restaurant community and southern hospitality. In October 2012, the Charleston area was named both Top U.S. City and Top Destination in the World by Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards," said Robyn Rice , Charleston destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide. "From the Pro Am golf tournament in March, to the state's first multi-port billfishing tournament in June, there are also activities for all outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year."
Sure Bets for Great Deals in 2013:
Orlando: The City Beautiful continues to reign as a go-to family and value destination in 2013, thanks to new attractions like the expanded Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom and hotel prices for all budgets. "Deals can be found year-round at most Orlando hotels, including many of the Disney Resorts, because there is a lot of hotel inventory to be filled. Orlando has always been a destination for families because in addition to its wide choice of theme parks and entertainment, there is great golf, restaurants and shopping for adults," said Robyn Rice , Orlando destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.
Phoenix: Home to a bevy of world-renown golf and spa resorts, Phoenix is also a hub of Southwestern culture and it's all being offered at particularly low travel prices. The Valley of the Sun maintains average hotel rates as low as $100, with year round art festivals and sporting events such as Spring Training, February 22 – March 30 and NASCAR Subway Fresh Fit 500, March 2-4. "For those looking for a day excursion, Tucson is a short drive and is host to annual events such as the Tucson Gem Show, February 2-17, and the Accenture Match Play Championship, February 18-24, as well as national shows including 'Wicked' and the Blue Man Group in 2013. Travelers interested in taking a weekend trip to the city can take advantage of hotel rates as low as $96 in Tucson," said Lisa Kroll , Phoenix destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.
Dominican Republic: Though famous for breathtaking beaches, the Dominican Republic is also one of the Caribbean's most geographically diverse countries. From majestic mountains to rural valleys, the country is rich in architecture and history that locals are eagerly waiting to share with visitors. "The broad spectrum of all-inclusive resorts provides options for travelers at all price points and increased flights to remote areas of the island are attractive to the adventure traveler," said John Israel , Caribbean expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.
The Comeback Kid: Atlantic City
Much of Atlantic City avoided any major permanent storm damage from Hurricane Sandy and is ready to host travelers looking for beautiful beaches, world-class restaurants, designer shopping, headline entertainment and more. "There was a common misconception that Atlantic City was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy but the city is very much up and running. Plus, new hotels such as Revel, and A-list entertainment like Lady Gaga, Kanye West and the music industry's power couple: Jay-Z and Beyonce have all helped to establish Atlantic City as much more than just a gaming destination," said Reid Webster , Atlantic City destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.
What Consumers Want Most in a Hotel in 2013
Orbitz is in the business of knowing what consumers want in a hotel and providing them with amenities that fit those needs. Based on consumer search inquiries in 20123, Orbitz travel experts share what they believe will drive hotel booking decisions in 2013.
Connectivity: Whether it's streaming a movie or Skyping with loved ones, staying connected in your hotel room has gone from a luxury to a requirement in the minds of most customers. With the potential for Dad on the laptop, Mom on the smartphone and two kids watching a cartoon on the tablet, in 2013, hotels will need to ensure they have the bandwidth to support all the Internet demands of today's travelers.
Outdoor Options: While many traveler tendencies are trending towards high-tech, soaking up some sunshine is still key for a good vacation. Pool, golf and tennis options are among the top-searched hotel amenities.
Freebies: Travelers do not want to be charged for additional costs when they check out. Free parking is the most-searched hotel amenity on Orbitz and cost-conscious customers will continue to push hotels to include options like Wi-Fi and airport shuttles as free perks for staying at that hotel.
Orbitz Travel Trend Predictions for 2013
Orbitz editors deem the top three travel trends for 2013 to be:
Mobile Booking: The explosive growth of smartphones and tablets continues to move mobile from a channel for simply searching and sharing into the preferred transactional tool for travelers. This is all the more evident with last minute bookings by both business and leisure travelers who are changing plans or making spur of the moment decisions. "By nature our customers are people on the move and as a result the travel industry has been uniquely poised to capitalize on the trust people now have in completing transactions through their smart devices," said Chris Orton , president of Orbitz. "Nearly two-thirds of our mobile hotel bookings are made for a stay within 24 hours, and 21 percent of all Orbitz hotel bookings are now made via mobile devices. Mobile-exclusive price deals are attracting customers who are quickly adopting mobile as their preferred method to book, including buying international travel packages off smartphones and tablets."
Uptick in International Travel: According to a 2012 Orbitz customer survey, 20 percent of travelers planned to travel internationally and ITB World Travel Trends Report expects U.S. outbound travel to increase by 3 percent driven in part by expanded deals to popular tropical destinations like Mexico. "European travel will be especially attractive as the need to fill extra hotel rooms built for the Olympics in the U.K. and the recession in Southern Europe will drive many travel bargains for consumers," said Julia Mighall , destination expert for Europe and regional director of Orbitz Worldwide. In 2013, European travel will also be bolstered by interest in the Royal Family's new baby and Ireland's continued marketing efforts around "The Gathering," a year-long campaign to draw people of Irish descent and "Irish Spirit" to the country.
Social Rewards: Travel brands are shifting more time – and money – towards building out their social media presence and the winner is the customer. "Social media-savvy travelers are cashing in on deals from their favorite travel companies, and can expect to see this trend continue to grow and become more competitive in 2013," said Marie LaPlante , senior director of brand marketing for Orbitz. 2013 will continue to see brands upping the ante to attract customers through social, such as Away.com's Operation Vacation 2013, which is offering one winner $2,500 worth of free flights and spending money.