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Experiences will be top of mind for consumers in 2022

A group of people raise their hands while celebrating in a color festival.

The economy has been shifting toward an experience-based market, and as a result, many people are changing the way they prioritize and spend their money. While millennials are the leaders behind this shift, all age groups are starting to adapt, especially after spending more time at home than ever before in the last few years. In fact, according to a third-party research study, 74% of Americans now value experiences over products or things. With so many consumers focused on purposeful experiences and relationships, it’s likely that the trend away from possessions won’t be going away anytime soon. Microsoft Advertising Insights took a deep dive into how these trends may impact our travel and retailer advertisers, especially as the warmer weather starts heading our way.

Traveling continues to be the most sought-after type of experience for consumers today. According to Luxury Traveler, 57% of all Americans are saving their money specifically for travel, and not surprisingly, Millennials were higher than the average, with over 65% doing so. Our internal findings can be broken into two main takeaways: searches and clicks for tours and activities are up compared to pre-pandemic times, and travelers are prepared to spend more on luxury travel experiences in 2022.

Tours and activities of all kinds are growing on the Microsoft Advertising Network as consumers prepare to get back out there. Some of the key search and click growth trends we’ve seen in 2022 are:

  • Searches for Tour Operators are up 45% compared to 2019.
  • Searches for Tourist Attractions are up 14% compared to 2019.
  • Clicks for Concerts and Music Festivals are rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Events, Shows & Cultural Attractions click-through rates are up 86% year-over-year (YoY).

A graph shows an 86% increase in click-through rates year-over-year for Events.

Pro tip: 22% of travelers say they plan to experience more guided cultural activities than they had pre-pandemic. Reach activity planners when they’re ready to book with Tours and Activities Ads.

In addition to activities, consumers are also craving luxury vacations. Our research shows that beaches, spas, and culinary-based trips are trending in 2022. Wellness tourism is one subcategory that is showing consistent growth, perhaps due to the ”self-care” craze. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism will grow an average of 20% per year for the next three years. Top queries for wellness-centered travel experiences in early 2022 focused on couples retreats and spa getaways, particularly in warm and beachy climates. Spa days are also heavily sought after for gifts, with over 20% of mothers saying they hope to receive a spa day for Mother’s Day in 2022. They were also the second most clicked-on gift for Mother’s Day 2021.

A graph shows the year-over-year percentage change of clicks per gift category for Mother’s Day 2021 versus 2020.

In addition to spas, mothers also enjoy being gifted with a special dining experience. Restaurant-related searches grew 46% YoY during Mother’s Day week in 2021 and are expected to grow even more in 2022 as people become more comfortable venturing outside their homes. Both spa and restaurant gifts have been centered around supporting small and local businesses during COVID-19. In fact, over half of this year’s survey respondents in a recent Civic Science report claim they will be shopping local for their Mother’s Day experiential gifts this year. We made a direct comparison between January 2021 and January 2022 queries and found the following:

  • “Local florists near me” searches grew 78%.
  • “Local jewelers near me” searches grew 23%.
  • “Shop local” searches grew 66%.

Pro tip: Entice customers to “shop local” by implementing Location Targeting and showcase your products and local retail store information to nearby shoppers with Local Inventory Ads.

Conclusion and resources

Now that you’ve got an introduction on what to keep an eye out for this spring, make sure you’re staying up to date with the latest trends as soon as they’re released. If you love insights, we have a lot more coming in 2022! You can also visit the Microsoft Advertising Insights content hub, which we update weekly.

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