Trends to Watch in German Leisure Travel

For many years, Germany has been not just one of Europe’s outbound tourism leaders, but one of the world’s most powerful travel markets. The German passport is one of the world’s most powerful when it comes to visa-free travel, and residents of the Western European country have taken full advantage of this, with Germany being considered the “world’s travel champions” by the nation’s leading travel association. The country ranks third in global spending abroad and takes the second-most outbound trips of any country in the world.

While German travelers have a strong desire to explore other countries, they spend proportionately more on domestic travel. The strength of both Germany’s domestic and international travel markets can be partially attributed to their sophisticated road infrastructure and auto industry, as cars are the preferred method of transportation for most German travelers.

As far as the travelers themselves, German tourists are known to take traveling seriously. While stereotypical beliefs about German culture have pushed this concept to the point where some doubt if Germans even enjoy taking a vacation, it is worth noting that Germans generally don’t leave any of their vacation days on the table. With the country being this serious about setting aside time for leisure, it comes as no surprise that its residents like to travel widely.

Generational Travel Preferences

While different generations of Germans have wildly varying vacation preferences, there are some opinions that transcend age. The majority of Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and boomers all prefer hotels over home-sharing, resorts, and staying with family or friends.

Different age groups are also in agreement when it comes to the kind of vacations they enjoy most. Relaxation trips are the most common kind of leisure travel for all four generations, ahead of sightseeing, visiting family, activity-based vacations and romantic getaways.

While boomers and Gen Xers are the highest spenders on travel, forecasters predict that Germans between the ages of 18 and 34 will soon be putting more of their money towards leisure trips.

Vacation Priorities & Concerns

The population’s strong desire to unwind and relax while on vacation has helped put Spain at the top of the list of destinations for outbound travel. Known for its picturesque beaches and fantastic food, and only a short flight from Germany, Spain meets the criteria for a convenient, relaxing vacation spot.

Known for its beautiful beaches and scenery, Spain is one of the top destinations for German leisure travelers.

However, a surprisingly large number of German travelers see their most popular outbound destination as unsafe. According to a 2017 study, only 49% of Germans say they feel safe and secure when traveling to Spain. This is partially because Germans say they feel unwelcome in the country, as overtourism protests have made some travelers hesitant to visit the Iberian Peninsula.

The perception of safety is even lower for other popular destinations like Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia — largely because of security concerns caused by regional instability.

Moderate Interest in Mobile

Hotels around the world are looking into guest messaging services to make receiving feedback and improving service easier. An Expedia study found that 24% of Germans like instant messaging as much or more than face-to-face interaction, a number that is expected to continue increasing.

This shows that a significant portion of German travelers would presumably be interested in messaging hotel staff when they have a request. However, this number is low when compared to China (81%) and Brazil (70%).

Germany also has some of the lowest numbers for mobile booking, with only 23% of travel bookings being made on mobile devices like phones and tablets — compared to the European average of 33%. This means that while the industry is largely shifting its focus towards mobile, desktop and other forms of booking are still key to targeting some major travel markets.

Appealing to German Tourists

To appeal to a broad base of German travelers, Expedia has found that travel brands need to emphasize value and deals in their advertising. While Germans have been known for spending a lot of money on travel in recent years, they are generally unlikely to spend frivolously.

By focusing not just on low prices for travel experiences, but also the quality of the experience itself, travel brands will effectively be able to advertise value to German tourists.

Cultural experiences are also in high demand, with 57% wanting to visit a specific country because of its culture. For high-end travelers, personalized experiences have grown in demand.

This trend is in line with the market’s appetite for value, as travelers who are already spending a significant amount of money on travel are looking to get the most out of their trip. A good way to guarantee this is by purchasing a customized travel package.

Whether hotels advertise to Germany by focusing on these personalized experiences, relaxation or value, it is clear that targeting this market of avid travelers is an important step for any travel brand to take.