Michèle Fitzpatrick is a veteran of the software industry with over 35 years of experience with many tech companies from Oracle and McAfee to IBM. Michèle became CEO of eviivo in 2012 and has since poised the company for growth with the launch of a modern, all-in-one booking and management platform — “eviivo Suite” — for independent accommodations. If you don’t know eviivo, it is an innovative company whose aim is to provide the most simplified cloud-based integrated solutions for hosts and hoteliers, making their lives easier to effortlessly run and maintain their business. We chat with Michèle about travel trends for 2023 and what it was like working her way up as a woman in the tech sector.
Top 7 Travel Trends According to eviivo
Travelers will continue to prefer short-term rentals over big chain hotels.
Inflation is not forcing travelers to pinch pennies — many are actually splurging.
The top 5 destinations for 2023 are all about relaxation, exploration and inspiration.
Travelers will return to nature – but without being completely unplugged.
Wellness and improving quality of life is fueling 2023 travel.
Hospitality technology will be prioritized — and ubiquitous.
“Work from roam” is the new “work from home.”
Nice to meet you Michèle, really impressed with the 7 trends you have outlined for travelers. Which one is most surprising to you?
Likewise, Emily! Among the 7 travel trends we identified, the most surprising was “work from roam.” While it has been a standard for millennials, we are now seeing people of all ages working remotely from all parts of the world. I love this. I love that they’re able to have a little more freedom and explore the world while they’re still plugged in with their work. We first noticed this trend back in May when we launched eviivo Mobile, which allowed property owners to run their businesses while they were working abroad. We were quite surprised to see that more than 80% of our customers downloaded the app right away. It is quite a testament to the “work from roam” movement.
You have an interesting background, you studied linguistics at university. How did you even get into a tech career?
There is really only a very small step between linguistics and programming languages and AI. Children learn how to assemble words into a meaningful sentence even though they have never been taught how to do it or never heard the sentence before. Linguistics is a science, and linguists have forever tried to work out whether it was possible to program a machine that knows which language form is correct or not correct.
You worked your way up in the tech space. What were the biggest challenges you faced as a woman in a male-dominated field, especially in the 1980s and 90s? It was tough then! While tech companies have significantly leveled up now, it is still challenging for women and other minorities as they continue to face prejudice – particularly in the world of finance and private equity. Fortunately, we’ve seen changes in the “power dynamic,” and it’s inspiring for me to see so many women in any industry for that matter truly become a force to be reckoned with.
Do you have one crazy story to share that hopefully wouldn’t happen today?
Applying for a job as Sales Exec in the Financial sector and being told that I could not be hired to sell software to the city (Wall Street) with the “good news” being that I would be a perfect fit for word processing sales because there were more women in typing pools. Or being told that I had to wear high heel shoes and a matching handbag to become a country manager.
What tips would you give women that are looking to become a CEO like you?
Work hard, do not be afraid, and while others’ mistakes might ultimately be your responsibility, do not ever let them become your guilt.
The biggest tech news lately has been around Lensa and ChatGPT. What are your thoughts on how AI may impact the travel space? I can think of many use cases, but the first step — and the most important time saver for everyone — is the ability to address a multitude of really simple questions about the services, amenities available and any special requirements before the question is even asked!
What else excites you about the travel tech right now?
Everyone plays in the travel industry. Everyone can be a guest and host at the same time. The biggest marketplace of all and the most available platforms are still in their infancy. We have barely passed the Internet stage and have not even begun to fully explore AI and Voice possibilities. I’m excited to see the evolution. Travel tech has advanced so quickly, and we are truly entering a new era where tech will be ubiquitous in all aspects of travel.
More Explanation on the eviivo Travel Predictions for 2023
While 2022 marked a return to form for travel and tourism and 2023 appears even more promising, with millions of travelers already planning trips, and a projected 20% increase in earnings for the global tourism sector, despite economic headwinds and global uncertainty.
Through internal data, research, and surveys with global partners and customers, as well as key data from industry experts, eviivo released key insights to determine the top travel trends for 2023.
1. Travelers will continue to prefer short-term rentals over big chain hotels.
According to American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT), chain hotel rates will significantly rise in 2023. In fact, this price surge has been predicted by CNBC as far back as June 2022, primarily because the hotel industry needs to compensate for losses during Covid-19, and stay competitive with current inflation costs.
Meanwhile, the short-term rental market, offering more affordable properties in the same locations as chain hotels, is seeing explosive growth in independent accommodations, including Airbnbs, vacation rentals, inns, boutique hotels, B&Bs, and unique privately owned properties such as castles and yurts.
2. No, inflation is not forcing travelers to pinch pennies — many are actually splurging
While inflation feels like a mountain, travelers are climbing it and won’t be intimated. In fact, according to Booking.com’s Travel in 2023 report, nearly half of travelers admitted they will be more indulgent in their vacation spending habits to make up for the lack of travel in the past two years. The main reason? A whopping 72% report traveling will always be worth it with the mood of travelers shifting to “bold adaptability” for 2023.
It’s not to say travelers won’t consider budget as they travel in 2023, but they will be smarter when booking, including taking advantage of never-before-seen travel deals, participating in loyalty programs, and booking directly on an accommodation’s website to get the best rate. In fact, according to an eviivo survey conducted in August 2022, over 53% of global travelers prefer to book their stays directly with the accommodation.
3. The top 5 destinations for 2023 are all about relaxation, exploration, and inspiration.
Most major travel publications have released their top travel destinations for 2023.
These five destinations below overlapped the most in the reports, indicating they are high on the best places to visit in 2023 according to American Express 2023 Trending Destinations, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure, Fodor’s, Conde Nast Traveler and Forbes.
“From our own data, we’ve seen a strong rise in interest and bookings in these picture-perfect, relaxing destinations,” says Jill Walker, Director of Distribution at eviivo, “so, of course, there is proof in the pudding.”
4. Travelers will return to nature – but without being completely unplugged.
Sustainable, responsible, and rural travel will continue to gain momentum in 2023, with travelers more inclined to lighten their luggage, choose trains over planes to reduce their carbon footprint, and opt for an “off-grid” vacation experience.
Almost half of global travelers want their 2023 getaway to have a more “back-to-basics” feel – think eco-friendly cabins, huts, and yurts – but 53% still want phone and internet connection at their destination.
We also found in our internal data that travelers are increasingly seeking a combination of city and nature.
For example, NYC Glamping, a trending, unique property right on the East River in Brooklyn, New York, offers the one-of-a-kind experience of staying in a well-appointed (and of course, Instagrammable) industrial shipping container with breathtaking sunrise and sunset views.
“We’ve noticed a trend of travelers wanting to get back to nature, but not being completely unplugged or too far away from city life,” says NYC Glamping manager Lana Surzhivoka. “The general feedback is a sense of relief… they get to experience something new and they don't even need to leave NYC!”
The property is among thousands in the eviivo collection where guests can be completely removed in unfurled natural settings — while having the instant gratification of high-speed Wifi, top-notch cell service and high-tech amenities in the property.
5. Wellness and improving quality of life are fueling 2023 travel.
2023 will see the rise of the “culture shock” vacationer, as more people are embracing completely new and novel experiences in their travel journeys — but they still want wellness as the main driver for their trip, especially post Covid-19. This includes overall wellness, spa, relaxation, and spiritual journeys.
It’s why solo travel has been on the rise for solitude and soul searching, and the number of solo travelers reserving trips for 2023 is up 24% compared to 2019. According to RateGain, a global expert in hospitality data and forecasting and eviivo partner, “solo” travelers were just as high as “couples” over “family” traveler profiles for the busiest days at London Airports in December 2022.
Global travelers are seeking silent retreats and experimental wellness experiences for 2023, with more than two-fifths wanting a “health hiatus,” so accommodations offering meditation, yoga, or just the promise of simplicity with a beautiful view will continue to trend.
“Guests crave a curated, framed experience that helps them slow down, sign-off, breathe deeply, listen, know again from one’s own sense,” says Raymond Linam, owner of Desert Harbor Retreat in New Mexico and eviivo customer. “In a world of seemingly unlimited options, we find guests repeatedly – and surprisingly to them – find nurture in the narrowing.”
Independent accommodation owners and hosts are focusing on their well-being, too – including automating their business to improve their work-life balance, reduce stress and enhance their quality of life.
An eviivo survey conducted in April 2022, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, polled 1,000 property hosts, owners, and boutique hoteliers specializing in short-term rentals and independent accommodations. The response was clear: 91% said a booking and property management mobile app is “extremely important” for running their business – and 47% noted that a mobile app is important for their work-life balance. It’s why eviivo launched eviivo Mobile in May 2022 to help simplify their lives. eviivo Mobile essentially mirrors the award-winning eviivo Suite right in the palm of their hand.
“Convenience for our customers was our biggest factor in launching eviivo Mobile, as was prioritizing health,” says Eric White, eviivo’s Chief Technology Officer. “We don’t want our customers sitting behind a desk all day. With attention turning to improved mental health and quality of life, we want property owners and hosts to go explore, be outdoors, visit family and friends, and truly live life.”
Furthermore, a 2022 report from Skift and AWS suggests that improving employee experiences in the travel sector has a direct impact on customers. Of the travel executives surveyed, more than half stated that the most impactful digital strategy to help attract and retain employees would be investment in modernized employee software.
6. Hospitality technology will be prioritized — and ubiquitous.
We’d be remiss not to mention the rise of virtual reality and the Metaverse as it pertains to travel in 2023 and beyond. While most people say virtual-only trips leave too much to be desired at present, 46% admit they would be more likely to travel to new places after visiting them virtually.
As virtual touch points are now expected on vacations, travelers should be able to book, preview and manage their trips through elevated, enhanced technology, such as easy-to-use apps, but also on-premises, like automated check-in at a property.
Future-forward tech is not only crucial for guests, but also for hoteliers, B&B owners, and vacation rental hosts who want a clean virtual throughline for their property management system (PMS) to manage remotely. In eviivo’s mobile survey, 84% of respondents said they want to be able to monitor and access their business anytime, anywhere, and always at their fingertips.
Thus, eviivo Mobile launched in May 2022 further automates and revolutionizes the booking and property management process — and over 80% customers have downloaded the app, a true testament to demand.
7. “Work from roam” is the new “work from home.”
Between 2019 and 2021, work from home tripled from 5.7% to 17.9%, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, and in the UK, remote workers skyrocketed in the past two years. As of the second quarter of 2022, Airbnb saw long-term stays (28 days or more) increase nearly 25 percent from 2021 and nearly 90 percent from 2019.
Remote work gave people the possibility to “work from roam,” where they could virtually work from anywhere in the world. This not only allows them to work remotely, but continue to explore the world, meet new people, and get inspired.
“‘Work from roam’ is not a trend; it’s a new normal that’s here to stay,” says Michele Fitzpatrick, eviivo CEO. “Our customers are seeing much longer stays and bookings from guests who are toting laptops and setting up their ‘office’ in their room, balcony or by the pool, wherever they feel inspired. Travelers are increasingly working outside their actual homes since they have the freedom, and it’s become a lot easier to do so. ”
“Work from roam” is indeed rising across the globe. According to the New York Times, employers, countries and travel brands are making it easier for people to work from anywhere in the world, and more than 20 countries now offer specialized visas to let foreigners live and work remotely within their borders, including Portugal and Spain.
In a 2022 Conde Nast Traveler summit focused on the future of travel, panelist Perry Cohen, founder and executive director of the Venture Out Project, commented on the phenomenon as it pertains to younger people: “It’s the post-college age where people are working from home and looking for friends but don’t have a way to meet new people — they are booking organized group trips to meet people and make friends.”