The COVID-19 pandemic has a great impact on traveler decisions and what people value when booking travel in this new reality.

For the industry, it is critical to meet evolving traveler expectations to capitalize on pent-up demand in the wake of the pandemic. Expedia Group created a report that includes 8,000 respondents from eight major markets: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States to better understand how COVID-19 continues to influence traveler decisions and find out what people are seeking when booking travel. The research uncovered some novel and surprising findings, signaling industry transformation is on the horizon.

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Promising signals

The return of urban escapes

Vacation rentals in remote areas are surging due to the volume of domestic travel to drivable destinations. Most travelers (81%) are considering a trip to a remote area, mountain, or small town in the next 18 months. However, city-centric trips are on the rise. Searches for major cities are increasing across the marketplace: Las Vegas, (+40%), Melbourne (+90%), Paris (+30%) and Sydney (+85%).

Vaccine passport to the world

Vaccines are key to reopening international travel corridors, and nearly three-quarters (71%) of travelers are comfortable with the concept of a vaccine passport. This is especially pronounced in the United Kingdom, where most travelers (81%) are comfortable with showing proof of vaccinations.

Travel is the top priority

More than a third (34%) of travelers have larger travel budgets now compared to 2020. In fact, nearly one in five (18%) expect travel to be the thing they spend the most on in 2021, on par with major spending items like home renovation projects (18%) and ahead of entertainment (12%), buying or taking care of their car (11%), or healthcare (11%). People are also willing to cut back on other expenses to save more for travel.

Reinforcing personal values

Nearly three in five travelers (59%) are willing to increase their spending to make the trip more sustainable, including three-quarters (76%) of Mexican travelers. The willingness to spend extra on sustainability shows that the environment is top of mind for many travelers.

Nearly two-thirds of travelers (65%) are more likely to book with travel providers that identify their practices as inclusive. This includes properties that are owned by women, welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ community, or supportive of people with disabilities. This is particularly important to German travelers, where nearly three-quarters (71%) are more likely to book accommodations with inclusive policies.

Types of trips

How people travel is also changing. According to the research, the interest in international trips, put on hold due to the pandemic, is increasing. However, quick getaways close to home remain top of mind for more travelers in the short term.

New places and experiences

People are ready to travel outside their comfort zone. Three-quarters of travelers are likely to select a destination they’ve never been to before — which more than half (53%) say reflects their desire for new experiences. More than half of travelers (52%) who have a trip planned are likely to take a mode of transportation they’ve never taken before. And, nearly a quarter (22%) are seeking once-in-a-lifetime experiences on their next trip.

Close to home, for now

Most travelers (60%) will opt for domestic travel for the short-term, though the outlook for international travel is improving with more than a quarter (27%) of travelers eyeing a trip to another country in the next 12 months.

Quick getaways

More travelers want to take frequent, shorter trips (41%), compared to those who want fewer, longer trips (28%) or a combination of shorter and longer trips (31%). Japan is a hotspot for quick getaways, where most travelers (58%) expect to take more frequent, but shorter trips.

Source: Expedia Group

Tags: travel, traveler

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