What Guest Reviews Tell Us About Travel Recovery in 2022?
As hospitality entered a new era of travel, we witnessed a continuous and encouraging recovery in 2022. With travel restrictions being relaxed or even lifted completely, the pandemic was no longer a primary concern when planning and heading into a trip, at least in most regions.
Where exactly are we in terms of global recovery? We analyzed more than 128 million guest reviews from our global hotel database - here’s what they tell us about travel recovery in 2022:
#1 Global Review Volume Was in Line with Other Travel Recovery Indicators in 2022.
Global review volume reached 69% of the 2019 numbers.
Looking at the numbers provided by leading travel and tourism organizations, we see that review volume aligns with other recovery indicators. UNWTO estimated that international travel reached 65% of the pre-pandemic levels. IATA pointed at total air traffic in 2022 of 68.5% compared to 2019.
A trend from 2021, domestic travel continued to lead the recovery for most of the regions.
#2 Q3 Saw the Highest Review Volume, Q4 Registered the Highest Percentage Increase
The highest review volume was recorded in Q3 2022 during summer and the beginning of fall. For many travelers, it was their first international vacation since the beginning of the pandemic.
Compared with 2019, percentage-wise, the fourth quarter of 2022 was the closest to the pre-pandemic numbers.
#3 EMEA Was the Leader of the 2022 Travel Recovery
One of the main drivers of recovery for EMEA was the unique economic and political structure of the European Union, which facilitated traveling due to similar COVID-19 relaxation measures in the first part of the year.
EMEA review volume reached 79% of the 2019 numbers.
EMEA was a particularly challenged region in 2022. With the Russian-Ukrainian war starting at the beginning of 2022, it was unclear if people were willing to travel. The sector recovered strongly despite a conflict that shook the world and left deep economic and political marks. Key indicators, such as RevPAR, bounced back strongly, especially during the summer months for certain destinations.
Similar to the global numbers, the quarter with the highest review volume for EMEA was Q3 2022, coinciding with a boom of travelers visiting sunny places across the Mediterranean.
Percentage-wise, the strongest quarter was Q4 2022 - reaching 86% of the 2019 volumes.
#4 APAC Still Recovering from COVID-19
The last three years have hit APAC travel especially hard due to the pandemic. With countries starting to open their borders gradually, last year saw a slower recovery than other regions. Q4 2022 marked another milestone for APAC, with China shifting from the Zero-COVID policy to reopening its borders.
It’s too early to predict whether 2023 will bring pre-pandemic volumes, but the region remains optimistic. Outbound arrivals, although continuing to increase, were still low and will continue to depend on the evolution of restrictions in the upcoming months.
APAC review volume reached 50% of the 2019 numbers.
Looking at a more distant future, APAC has it all to regain its position as the global leader in the travel market: with a growing population, and a stronger middle class, the travel demand will soon exceed the pre-pandemic numbers. UNWTO estimates a 32% increase in travel contribution to the regional GDP by 2025.
We see a constant increase in review volume quarter by quarter, reflecting the gradual reopening of the region. In Q2 2022, countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan started to relax travel entry requirements. More steps to encourage international travel were taken in Q3 2022, culminating in Q4 2022 with China announcing the end of the Zero-COVID policy.
When looking at recovery against 2019 numbers, there is an ascending trend with a slow yet gradual increase quarter-by-quarter, reflecting the relaxation measures. We hope to see these numbers increase at a faster pace in 2023.
#5 The US Recovery Led By Domestic Travel and International Departures
US review volume reached 61% of the 2019 numbers.
At the beginning of 2022, US travelers were reluctant to hit the European road due to the Russian-Ukrainian war. However, the fear dissipated slowly, with interest in visiting outbound destinations increasing. The end of Q2 2022 marked a new stage for international travel, with restrictions eased for those entering the US. Unfortunately, the long visa wait times - up to 400 days - have slowed international arrivals and impacted the economic recovery. In 2023, authorities and travel associations will continue to look at ways to reduce visa processing time and improve the performance of the US as a global destination for tourists.
In line with the global trend, Q3 2022 was the strongest quarter when looking at the number of reviews. Percentage-wise, Q4 2022 gets the closest to the pre-pandemic numbers.
#6 Positive Feedback is Steadily High
There are no significant changes compared to 2021, indicating a strong focus on maintaining high quality and performance in the industry.
From a regional perspective, EMEA got the most positive reviews in 2022. Historically, the US is known as the region getting fewer positive reviews. 2022 data shows an increase: back in 2021, 80% of reviews were positive. It proves again the constant efforts hoteliers and destinations put into increasing guests’ and visitors’ satisfaction.
A Live Survey Solution is a great way to reduce negative feedback. With an on-site survey, hoteliers can solve issues on the go, increasing guest satisfaction and preventing negative reviews.
#7 An Outlook for 2023
Recovery will continue in 2023, with EMEA likely being the first region to reach and exceed pre-pandemic numbers. Here, the hospitality sector proved its resilience multiple times, dealing with the pandemic, a war, and soaring energy prices. Some destinations have already experienced overtourism - and are looking for sustainable strategies to help their communities thrive and preserve their natural and cultural values.
Exciting times are ahead for APAC. China’s reopening will boost travel both regionally, as well as globally. For the first part of 2023, recovery may still be shy, with authorities figuring out how to manage the new influx of travelers and a potential spike in COVID-19 cases.
For the US, a top priority will be reducing long visa waiting times and reconfirming itself as a top global destination. With fewer positive reviews, the region will continue focusing on new ways to increase guest satisfaction.
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Read about the rising resource for travel inspiration, getaways to avoid overtourism, what most impacts the booking decision, and a new way of experiencing travel.
Although 2022 didn't bring a full recovery for the industry, it marked a new era. Travel strengthened its place as an ultimate standard of luxury, an escape from everyday life, freedom, and happiness. Consumers are determined more than ever to live life to the fullest by discovering new places, having more experiences, and connecting with people.
Are you looking to get more insights from your reviews? Contact us today to see how powerful data from reviews can help you make your guests happy.
*2022 and 2019 data were requested at the end of each quarter in 2022. Due to the dynamic nature of the database, with reviews and hotels being updated, the numbers may vary if data were requested at an earlier or later stage.
** the report includes rounded numbers for a clearer data representation.