Spring Break 2023: Emerging Consumer Trends & Predictions

March 21, 2023

Three years ago, the pandemic put a stop to travel, sparked remote work, and prompted mass relocations. As a result, we’ve seen human movement ebb and flow in new ways over the last few years. With the spring break travel season upon us, what will be some of the top travel destinations and emerging consumer trends? Based on these spring break trends, what can businesses in the hospitality and travel industry expect for the rest of the year?

To find out, we analyzed consumer foot traffic from March 1 to April 15, 2022, compared to the rest of the year. We looked at how foot traffic changed during spring break in U.S. states, major cities, and by place category as well.

A diverse group of friends enjoy a bonfire on the beach at sunset.

Analysis: Top Destinations for Spring Break Travelers

Last year during spring break, most U.S. states saw increased foot traffic. Nevada and Florida saw some of the highest increases in foot traffic at 20% and 15%, respectively. As these two states are popular for tourism, it is likely that spring break fueled an influx of visitors to both states. The southern region of the U.S. experienced higher foot traffic than northern states as travelers were likely seeking a vacation in warmer weather.

Looking at this foot traffic on a more magnified scale, we can see which cities experienced the greatest increase in foot traffic over spring break. Fort Lauderdale, FL, saw an increase of 35%, making it the most popular city during spring break last year. This means Fort Lauderdale will likely see large amounts of spring break travelers again this year, especially as 2023 will be the first full-scale spring break in years. Other cities like Las Vegas, NV, and Houston, TX, also saw significantly higher foot traffic. States like California, Texas, and Florida each had multiple cities with higher foot traffic during spring break weeks, so this year, businesses in these states will likely be preparing for another influx of visitors.

Getting even more granular, let’s take a look at spring break foot traffic by place category. Last year, various place categories saw foot traffic rise during spring break. Not surprisingly, accommodations saw a 58% increase in foot traffic, making it the most impacted category. Transportation saw an increase of 33%, and nightlife entertainment locations saw an increase of 28%.

So, last year during spring break, travelers were looking for places to stay where they could enjoy some nightlife and entertainment. This is likely the reason why Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas saw substantial spikes in foot traffic. So, how can this data help businesses in 2023?

Last Year’s Foot Traffic, This Year’s Plan

Although each year is different, analyzing consumer foot traffic during spring break last year is still useful. This is especially true as travel continues to regain more popularity after the pandemic and the mass travel disruptions during December 2022. With these issues hopefully in the rearview mirror, spring break 2023 may now be the best time to analyze foot traffic and consumer travel behavior, helping to predict travel trends for the rest of 2023.

However, as consumer behavior continues to change due to other factors like high inflation and economic uncertainty, businesses in the hospitality and travel industries will need to remain flexible to be successful this year.

Spring Break Destinations in 2023

This year, travelers are expected to be more adventurous. Fewer people are planning to visit places they’ve visited before, so unexpected spring break destinations may attract more foot traffic this year.

This means accommodations, transportation, and entertainment locations in cities like Las Vegas or Fort Lauderdale may have more competition than last year. Our Q4 2022 Consumer Trends Report suggests that cost-conscious travelers will plan road trips to explore areas closer to home this year. Meanwhile, more airlines are offering new deals to help consumers get the most bang for their buck. So, will these tactics succeed in attracting consumers to travel by air? Whatever the case may be, traditional spring break destinations may see fewer travelers this year, as vacationers choose new locales.

But, not everyone wants to travel domestically this year. As many consumers venture into new areas, other consumers are venturing to new countries. Likely making up for lost time during the pandemic, more travelers plan to visit other countries and more families plan to travel together. It will be interesting to see what spring break destinations become popular this year as these new travel trends take hold.

Consumer behavior is constantly evolving. Businesses in the hospitality and travel industries must keep up-to-date on new trends to succeed. Analyzing last year’s spring break foot traffic by state, city, and place category can help us understand the big picture of consumer travel trends. It can also help businesses understand what to expect this spring break. Furthermore, this year’s spring break foot traffic trends will offer businesses a wealth of insight into the next wave of consumer travel trends for 2023.

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