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Say ‘Ciao’ to Set-Jetting – How Streaming is Impacting Travel in 2023

Consumer Industries
Consumer Campaigns & B2B

Ciara McCrory explains the rise and rise of holidays to TV screen destinations

The White Lotus had many of us transfixed when season two debuted late last year. Along with showcasing exciting new talent, a dark plot, and Jennifer Coolidge delivering one of the greatest lines on television (“these gays, they’re trying to murder me!”), it really sold Sicily as a destination.

It seems I wasn’t alone daydreaming of an Aperol Spritz in the Sicilian sun after every episode. The luxury resort where the show was filmed, the San Domenico Palace in Taormina, saw a huge spike in bookings and Sicily as a destination was propelled to the front of our minds and top of our wish lists.

At the time the show was on air last November, holidays from the UK to Sicily were up 61% compared to the year before and UK Google searches for Sicily were the highest on record in January 2023.

After a tough couple of years, it must have seemed like manna from heaven for hoteliers and hospitality businesses when HBO rolled into town and the tourists came flocking.

And it’s not just Italy. People are following Emily’s footsteps in Paris, visiting high society hotspots in the UK for Bridgerton, chasing the one ring in New Zealand and battling wildlings around my native Northern Ireland.

Expedia’s Travel Trends Report 2023 found that two-thirds of global travellers have considered destinations after seeing them on films or TV shows and 39% have booked trips to small screen destinations.

Streaming services are now the second most influential source of travel inspiration, trumped only by advice from friends and family. That’s big business for travel and hospitality.

It's no wonder really. A destination’s breadth of offering can really be showcased via broadcast. What better way to show the weather, the local food, landscape, people, and way of life.

The question for those in the travel and hospitality industry must be how can they capitalise on the set-jet effect?

  • Keep your finger on the pulse

Stay on top of trends that will appeal to set-jetters. It may be an old favourite is emerging as a cult classic, or a reboot reminds us of a great destination – make sure you know about it before the bookings roll in so you can tailor experiences and packages to suit.

  • Use your expertise

While visitors might want to see every location from their favourite show, use your local knowledge and experience to help craft well-rounded recommendations that showcase the best of your destination – whether that’s the best time to skip the crowds, or where the stars dined when filming finished.

  • Make connections

If Netflix is yet to come knocking, build connections in the industry to forge relationships with decision-makers and location scouts to show off everything your destination has to offer.

It’s clear that the hotspots we see on our small screens have a huge impact on our travel preferences, inadvertently or otherwise. With The White Lotus filming its third instalment in Thailand, it may be time to start planning our next big getaway.