The year 2022 is almost behind us and has flown by quite fast. This year feels like the first year most of the world has finally put the COVID-19 pandemic behind it. As we look forward to 2023, it is prudent to reflect on what 2022 has taught us. On a less introspective note, however, we are more interested in the travel trends we’ve seen throughout the year. How have you traveled this year?
The Kenyan Coast has been 2022’s most popular travel destination for Kenyans. Diani has edged out the North Coast as the preferred slice of the Kenyan Coast for most Kenyans. Hotels such as Baobab Beach Resort & Spa and Neptune Village Beach Resort & Spa have been the most visited and most inquired about at least among our clients. The other Neptune Hotels, that is Neptune Paradise and Neptune Palm have also drawn significant interest. Other in-demand hotels have been Diani Sea Lodge, Diani Sea Resort, Southern Palms, and Swahili Beach Resort. Some of the hidden gems have been The Sands at Chale which is Kenya’s only island resort, Leopard Beach Resort & Spa, and Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa which are well-priced 5-star hotels. The Maji Beach Boutique Hotel has emerged as an exclusive, boutique hotel ideal for couples and honeymooners. This status is further cemented by the hotel’s no kids allowed policy, at least for most of the year. Finally, Leisure Lodge was acquired by Plan Hotels and rebranded to Diamonds Leisure Beach & Golf Resort.
On the other hand, the North Coast has also had a strong showing despite trends showing a slight preference for Diani. Voyager Beach Resort, PrideInn Flamingo, and PrideInn Paradise have led the popularity contest. Sarova Whitesands also remains quite popular especially due to its extremely friendly child policy; the best we’ve seen so far. Neptune Beach Resort, The Reef Hotel, and Sun N Sand have also made a case for themselves.
Further sections of the North Coast such as Kilifi, Malindi, and Watamu were not left behind. In Kilifi, Silver Palm Spa & Resort emerged as the hotel of choice. Turtle Bay in Watamu was the most preferred in Watamu with the high-end Hemingways Watamu & Medina Palms also proving competitive. The Sandies properties in Malindi, that is Sandies Tropical Village, Malindi Dream Garden, and Diamonds Dream of Africa were popular in Malindi.
In our products portfolio, weekend getaways refer to destinations such as Naivasha, Nakuru, Nairobi, and Mt. Kenya. They are non-beach destinations with limited or no safari offerings but are ideal for a weekend getaway. In this category, Naivasha led the race in terms of popularity but was closely rivaled by the Mt. Kenya region. Notable hotels in this category include L. Naivasha Sopa Resort, Serena Sweetwaters, Sarova Lion Hill, Sawela Lodges, The Great Rift Valley Lodge among others. Elementaita was also inquired about often. Weekend getaways were particularly popular as alternatives to the coast where most hotels were sold out, especially for the Festive Season.
Admittedly, our safari packages were not particularly competitive this year as we mostly offer private safaris. We hope to have shared safaris for 2023 which are significantly more affordable than private safaris. As such, our insight in this category may be a bit limited. However, we are able to deduce that Masai Mara remains the top safari destination. That being said, lodges in the Tsavo parks have made gains in this category by creating packages around the SGR train service. Transport is usually a logistical pain point when planning safaris. The SGR train service goes a long way in easing this part of the trip. Salt Lick Safari Lodge and Taita Hills Safari Resort & Spa offered a subsidized Madaraka Express Package that proved popular with a lot of our clients. We see other lodges along the SGR track creating similar packages.
Amboseli was the most popular self-drive safari destination. Roads within the park are mostly maneuverable with daily-drive cars with the only caveat being that they must be raised vehicles.
Kenyans are quickly becoming globetrotters. Dubai seems to be the first step in globetrotting as it remains quite popular with Kenyans. Beach destinations such as Seychelles, Mauritius, and the Maldives were also significantly requested. South Africa, Turkey, and Egypt are also worth mentioning. Our Dubai offers will definitely be competitive for 2023 with work on other destinations ongoing here at Starluck Travel to ensure we are a one-stop shop for all matters travel.
Based on our observations in 2022, there are a few things we can expect in 2023. Firstly, hotel rates are likely to be slightly higher as we move further and further away from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hotels slashed their rates during the pandemic years to try and entice clients to travel. However, as economies around the world recover, hotel rates are likely to go up.
All the same, there is a spike in travel with hotels selling out a lot this year. For 2023, this trend is likely to continue and early booking is advisable.
FREE night offers may be limited or disappear altogether. One of the incentives hotels offered from 2020 to 2022 was free nights, for example, pay for 3 nights, and get the 4th night free. As travel trends and rates return to pre-pandemic levels, such incentives are unlikely to be offered.
Transport costs may go up due to the obvious state of the energy industry in the world.