Travel interest and trends have skewed towards nature since early 2020, which isn’t entirely surprising given the impact that Coronavirus (COVID-19) had and continues to have on travel. Our data shows that the use of endorsements* such as hiking (94%), clean air (50%), nature (44%) and relaxation (33%) has increased on our platform since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, in mid-2020 ‘nature trip’ was the most common trip type among travellers surveyed by us.
To discover what’s important to nature travellers and how you can better attract them, we interviewed eight people and surveyed another 1,398 customers from the US, the UK, Brazil, France, Russia, Spain and Germany. Here we unpack the most interesting findings.
Not everyone relaxes the same
Nature destinations have consistently strong associations with isolation, quietness, stress reduction, beautiful natural landscapes and physical activities like hiking. They’re places where travellers can unplug and be away from daily routines, reduce stress and improve mental health. But there are variations within this broad travel category.
Three types of nature travellers emerged from the qualitative data. On one end of the spectrum is the Explorer – the adventurous traveller who opts for more remote destinations that they can discover. Explorers are more likely to take longer trips and also to stay at multiple accommodations. The second nature traveller type is the Hiker, a frequent weekend traveller who prioritises being active. Hikers will stay in either one or multiple accommodations per trip. On the other end of the spectrum is the Disconnector, whose nature trips are primarily about decompressing. They don’t have a strong preference for going near or far from home, nor do they have a strong preference for what activities, trails or landmarks are close to the property. Disconnectors may do some walking or cycling, and will likely stay for a week or weekend in only one accommodation.
Choosing the right jump-off point
For nature travellers choosing where to stay, proximity to specific areas or points of interest is most important, followed by price and then by reviews of accommodation. This differs for non-nature travellers, for whom price considerations trump location. Additionally, nature travellers have a stronger preference for apartments, vacation homes, B&Bs and guest houses compared to non-nature travellers.
Over half (56%) the travellers surveyed considered on-site parking a must-have facility. Slightly under half (49%) the respondents said that having public transport nearby was not important, which suggests that private transport is quite common for nature trips. Given the importance of parking, it’s a good idea to indicate on your property page whether you offer free or paid parking. This can help you become more visible to travellers who filter their searches based on this requirement.
While not specific to nature travellers, a comfortable bed and the ability to get food – mainly breakfast – were both mentioned as two of the most useful/delighting facilities by those surveyed. Just under half (43%) consider a nearby restaurant a must-have.
Despite nature being the guiding motivator, having a town or city nearby to explore was an important destination feature – 39% of the travellers we surveyed considered it a must-have, followed by having an ocean (34%) or beach (31%) nearby. The availability of more extensive accommodation facilities, on the other hand, was rated quite low in importance. More than half of respondents found it unimportant whether their accommodation had a hot tub (54%) or fireplace (67%).
Curating content for the nature traveller
Search engines, guidebooks, online articles and the reviews of friends and family play a bigger role in choosing nature destinations, compared to non-nature destinations. Photos are especially useful when appealing to nature travellers who are “looking for nice scenery” and who tend to focus on “the backgrounds in the pictures”. One of the pain points, according to the travellers we interviewed, is misrepresentation. Finding accurate information about a nature destination is not always easy, and it can be frustrating to discover a mismatch between expectation and reality. Photos, as well as detailed descriptions of the surrounding areas, can go a long way to standing out to and attracting nature travellers.
*Based on endorsements left on Booking.com as part of post-stay reviews. Insight based on endorsements that saw the biggest increase in monthly usage between 1st April 2020 and 11th September 2020, compared to the average monthly endorsements between January 2019 and February 2020.
- Nature trips have been growing since early 2020, and is the trip type most positively influenced by the pandemic
- Three types of nature travellers emerge from our data – the explorer, the disconnector and the hiker – who pursue relaxation and being in nature in their own unique way
- Nature travellers have a stronger preference for apartments, vacation homes, B&Bs and guest houses compared to non-nature travellers, and consider on-site parking a must-have facility