Trends & Insights

Understanding the nature-driven traveler

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The nature trip describes a broad range of non-urban experiences. What motivates travelers to get away from it all? We dive into new research to find out

Travel interest and trends have skewed toward nature since early 2020, which isn’t entirely surprising given the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) had and continues to have on travel. Our data shows that the use of simple 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 travelers we surveyed.

To discover what’s important to nature travelers 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 travelers 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 travelers emerged from the qualitative data. On one end of the spectrum is the Explorer – the adventurous traveler 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 traveler type is the Hiker, a frequent weekend traveler who prioritizes 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 biking, and will likely stay for a week or weekend in only one accommodation.

Choosing the right jump-off point

For nature travelers 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 travelers, for whom price considerations trump location. Additionally, nature travelers have a stronger preference for apartments, vacation homes, B&Bs, and guest houses compared to non-nature travelers.

Over half (56%) the travelers surveyed considered on-site parking a must-have facility. Slightly under half (49%) the respondents said that having public transit nearby wasn’t 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 travelers who filter their searches based on this requirement.

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Snow hiking

 

While not specific to nature travelers, 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 travelers 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 traveler

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 travelers 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 travelers we interviewed, is misrepresentation. Finding accurate info about a nature destination is not always easy, and it can be frustrating to discover a mismatch between expectation and reality. Photos and descriptions of the surrounding areas can go a long way to standing out to and attracting nature travelers. 

*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 April 1, 2020 and September 11, 2020 compared to the average monthly endorsements between January 2019 and February 2020.

 

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Takeaway
  • Nature trips have been growing since early 2020, and is the trip type most positively influenced by the pandemic
  • Three types of nature travelers emerge from our data – the explorer, the disconnector, and the hiker – who pursue relaxation and being in nature in their own unique way
  • Nature travelers have a stronger preference for apartments, vacation homes, B&Bs, and guest houses compared to non-nature travelers, and consider on-site parking a must-have facility