How can heat waves shape future travel trends?

The summer holidays have  always brought to mind hotels and journeys. But this concept could change for everyone as a result of recent climatic events characterized by extreme heat waves in different areas of the world.

Why? The weather has historically been one of the main reasons for choosing a destination. So if a traveller is dissatisfied with this factor, they may decide not to return  or at least not come back next year during the same season.

This 2022 we have seen how temperatures broke records even in Northern Europe. Could his factor change tourism trends for next summer? At Mabrian we have an index (called the Climate Perception Index) to calculate the effect of the weather on tourist destinations and how satisfied tourists are with the weather during their stay. The index uses different advanced artificial intelligence techniques based on the use of data from millions of visitor interactions on social networks that are captured daily.

After analyzing the impact of this summer’s heat waves from this index, we can see that France, Greece and Spain have been the most effected destinations in terms of loss of climate satisfaction.

This means that their perception of the trip in general has also undergone changes. In fact tourists who have suffered a heat wave during their stay in the destination present a generalized and significant drop in the score on what they think of the experience and their global perception of the trip.

This drop in satisfaction supposes a high possibility that these visitors will not return. Even more so taking into account the effect of the great increase in the cost of accommodation in destinations such as Greece and Spain during this season.

However on the other side of the coin, our Climate Perception Index has found that tourists who visited the UK this summer have shown an overall better perception of the weather compared to 2021.

If this trend towards a warmer climate continues over time, based on current scientific evidence about climate change, the tourism industry will surely find itself having to rethink summer vacations as we know them. That will happen because travelers may be more interested in cooler places during the summer months. Or, perhaps, they could change the season in which they visit typical beach destinations, arriving before or after the summer season.

Analyzing climate satisfaction and its effects on the global experience of visitors helps the tourism industry to be more resilient and make better decisions in the future. You can analyze the climate perception in a destination and the effects of phenomena such as heat waves, intense rains, snowfall, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, etc. Thus, markets and seasons less sensitive to this adverse weather can be identified and communication and marketing actions can be segmented for each of the markets. Fluctuations in demand associated with this variation in weather can also be anticipated.

If we take into account the data shown by our climate satisfaction indicator, tourists may prefer less popular destinations from now on.  These are likely to be less crowded destinations that will see their economy boosted as a result of all the welcome visitors.

The change that can be seen from now on does not mean that the British or Germans visit Danish beaches suddenly, but it does mean that they can explore the north of countries that they traditionally visit. Thus, destinations in the north of France or Spain may become more popular and should see this trend as a development opportunity for the warmer months. Similarly, hotel companies should start taking these indicators into account when deciding their next openings and investments.

Destinations hit by heat waves, on the other hand, may see demand more seasonally adjusted and may direct their efforts to tourists who are interested in visiting the destination out of season.

Another change or opportunity is that the activities in the destination may be affected, arousing more interest in plans or activities that start when the sun is going down or at night. That in turn could mean that guided tours, bars or restaurants have to modify their hours.

Having all the information related to the expectations of the visitor and their experiences once they are in the destination helps  different tourist entities to better plan their tourist offer and to adjust their communication, seasonality, infrastructures and target markets accordingly.

At Mabrian we have developed a methodology to be able to measure this. Both this indicator and other indicators that we use measure the perception and evolution of tourism and the score that a destination has in the eyes of tourists.

All this data is part of the Mabrian cloud tourism intelligence platform, which allows the most up-to-date information to be consulted at all times. This helps our clients to have the potential of this valuable information when making strategic and operational decisions, whether that be promotions, marketing, destination management or investment.