Top 6 emerging travel trends

travel trends1.    The resurgence of the travel agent

As consumers look to find their next vacation spot, they are seeking out travel advisors to help them navigate through the complex travel environment. Even the most seasoned travelers are looking for a second opinion when booking travel right now and are looking to speak directly to someone that they can trust. New Amex Trendex survey data1 even found 36% of Millennials say they are more likely to call their travel provider due to the pandemic.

2.    Desire to travel big, shop small

Travelers want to learn and provide a positive experience to the places they travel to and are looking for guidance from travel brands on how to support and engage with small businesses while traveling. In fact, Amex Trendex survey data2 found that 83% of consumers surveyed agree they always shop and eat at small businesses while traveling to support the local economy, and 82% say they look for destinations where they can immerse themselves in the local culture.

3.    New currency emerging

Consumers are looking for new ways of spending on their trips with credits and vouchers, such as eCredits and travel vouchers, which has become recently accessible on, where consumers can easily see what credits they have and when they expire directly on the Amex Travel homepage. In fact, the 4 top biggest US airlines (American, United, Delta and Southwest) had $10 billion in unused travel credits on their books at the end of 2020, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

4.    Shift towards sustainability and responsible tourism

The consumer mindset has changed – they are being more purposeful about their purchase decisions, especially when it comes to travel. Amex Trendex2 research shows 50% of travelers say they have become more interested in responsible tourism and 87% want to have a positive impact on the community they are visiting

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5.    Growing opportunity for brands to engage

As New Amex Trendex2 found that 2 in 5 consumers say they are not receiving enough information about the social and environmental impact of their travel, there is a strong opportunity for brands to directly engage with their customers and educate them. American Express Travel also found that consumers are willing to pay more to use travel and lifestyle brands who demonstrate environmental responsibility or to offset their carbon footprint, and they are looking to travel brands to highlight the positive impact that they are making while traveling.

6.    Flexibility is key

With the future of travel uncertain because of fluctuating travel restrictions, it is important to have a plan A, B and C and be willing to pivot as needed.

1This Amex Trendex online poll was conducted by Morning Consult between August 20-24, 2021 among a national sample of 2,000 general population travelers with a household income of at least $70K, and defined as adults who traveled by air at least once in 2019. Results from the survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. 

2 This Amex Trendex online poll was conducted by Morning Consult between August 23-29, 2021 among a national sample of 3,000 general population travelers with a household income of at least $70K, and defined as adults who traveled by air at least once in 2019. Additionally, this sample includes 1,044n AMEX Cardmembers. Results from the survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

About the author

Audrey Hendley
Audrey Hendley

Audrey Hendley is President of American Express Travel, one of the world’s largest multi-channel leisure travel agencies. Named to this role in 2018, Hendley has driven significant growth in premium travel for American Express by transforming the leisure travel business through innovation, digitization, and customer focus. 

Throughout her career, Hendley has distinguished herself as an influential, forward-thinking leader with the acumen to innovate for long-term growth, develop and retain outstanding talent, and deliver products and services that exceed customer expectations. 

As an advocate for women in business, Hendley proudly serves as Chair for the New York Women’s Interest Network (WIN) at American Express, where she has leads and supports the agenda for Inclusion and Diversity by focusing on specific issues encountered by women in their careers. She also serves as member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Finance & Audit committee for World Education Services (WES), a non-profit organization that helps international students and professionals to achieve their educational and professional goals in the United States and Canada. 

In 2012, Hendley was inducted into American Express’ Hall of Fame. Hendley has also received numerous awards and recognitions, including being named by Forbes as “arguably one of the most powerful women in the travel industry,” one of the 50 Most Influential Irish American Women by Irish America Magazine, and a Top 25 Executive in Sales and Marketing by HSMAI. Hendley has been quoted extensively by a diverse range of media including, Bloomberg, CNBC, Fortune, and Travel + Leisure and has served as a keynote speaker or panelist at multiple industry conferences including, G100, CES, ILTM Cannes and Skift Global Travel Forum. Contact her at

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