Drawing on research among more than 20,000 travellers across 28 countries combined with insights from proprietary search and endorsement data, Booking.com has predicted nine themes that will fuel the future of travel - in the coming year and beyond.
Time at home has made people crave the world outside more than ever. During recent lockdowns, two-thirds (65%) of travellers reported being excited about travelling again, with 42% wanting to travel more in the future to make up for time lost in 2020 (rising to 51% for Gen Z and 49% for Millennials). Over a third (38%) intend to plan a trip to make up for a celebration missed due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), while two-fifths (40%) intend to rebook a trip they had to cancel.
Travellers will be scrutinising spend in 2021, with 62% of travellers indicating they will be more price-conscious when it comes to searching and planning a future trip. In addition, 55% are more likely to hunt down promotions and savings, behaviours that we predict will last years.
The focus on flexibility will also remain at the forefront, with 46% of travellers considering refundable accommodation a must-have for their next trip.
Familiarists not tourists
Domestic trips will continue to dominate the travel space, with 47% of people planning to travel within their own country in the medium term (7-12 months) and 38% planning to in the longer term (in over a year’s time). When it comes to local travel, 43% plan to explore a new destination within their home region/country and 46% will take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of their home country. Half (50%) intend to travel somewhere - locally or not - they’ve already been previously for its familiarity.
Seeking comfort and distraction during weeks in lockdown, the majority (95%) of travellers spent time looking for vacation inspiration, with over a third (38%) looking at potential travel destinations as often as once a week. As restrictions continue to ebb and flow, destinations and accommodations will come up with even more inventive ways to capitalise on travellers’ heightened desire to escape reality and connect them with the experiences that await - from accommodations revamping their social media presence to local tourist boards creating Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) content to visually showcase the best these places have to offer.
Safety cleans up
In the future, 79% of global travellers will take more precautions and 70% expect tourist attractions to adapt to allow for social distancing. In parallel, 70% will only book a particular accommodation if it’s clear what health and hygiene policies it has in place, with three quarters (75%) favouring accommodations that have antibacterial and sanitising products.
Travellers will have a more eco-conscious mindset next year and beyond, with over half (53%) of global travellers wanting to travel more sustainably in the future. As a result, more than two-thirds (69%) expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options, and travellers will consequently visit alternative destinations to avoid overcrowding (48%).
Bye bye 9 to 5
Working remotely has irreversibly entered the mainstream during the pandemic with the knock-on effect that more people will look to take longer trips in the future that effectively combine work and pleasure than ever before. Over a third (37%) of travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 52% say they would take the opportunity to extend any business trips to enjoy leisure time at the destination.
So much time spent in our own homes with our loved ones has given birth to a desire to enjoy more of our natural resources. Use of simple endorsements such as hiking (94%), clean air (50%), nature (44%) and relaxation (33%) on Booking.com have increased since the start of the pandemic, while research shows that over two-thirds of travellers (69%) will look to appreciate more simple experiences such as spending time outdoors or with the family while on vacation. Over half (56%) will seek out more rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences to immerse themselves in the outdoors.
Tech innovation will play a crucial role in rebuilding traveller confidence, and we will see the accelerated use of tech to adapt to a new type of traveller. Already, 64% of travellers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when travelling and 63% say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travellers feel safe. More than half (53%) will want tech options to make last-minute restaurant reservations and almost a quarter (21%) will want more self-service machines instead of ticket desks.