Smarter, kinder, safer
Nine predictions from Booking.com on the future of travel
There’s no doubt that the world has been and is continuing to be reshaped by the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and in releasing its predictions for travel in 2021 and beyond, Booking.com notes that innovation within the travel industry will accelerate faster than ever to respond to marked shifts in travel expectations and behaviours.
The digital travel company observes that travellers will look for a heightened level of travel safety and more sustainable travel offerings, as well as evolve their preferences for where and with whom they travel.
And it makes it clear that newfound appreciation for doorstep delights will endure alongside an abiding love of the far flung, and travellers will find new ways to blur the lines between work and travel.
The result of all this is that it will catapult a demand for deeper value from the trips we book in the future.
To reach these observations, Booking.com has combined research from over 20,000 travellers across 28 countries and territories with insights from proprietary search and endorsement data as well as over 20 years of travel expertise to reveal 9 predictions for the future of travel – in 2021 and beyond.
With over half (59%) of Canadian travellers responding that they won’t be comfortable travelling until a Coronavirus vaccine or treatment is in place, it may be a long time before we experience the world as freely as we did previously, but the industry will continue to adapt at pace, satiating our appetite to travel whenever it’s safe to do so.
Arjan Dijk, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Booking.com, observed: “2020 has been a year like no other and while it will be some time before travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, all signs point to the fundamental and enduring role that travel plays in all our lives. It continues to bring moments of joy and inspiration to people across the globe during times of uncertainty, whether through dreaming and planning, or cherishing the trips we have been able to take.”
Dijk continued: “Enhancing our understanding of one another and our common desire to explore beyond the horizon, I believe that travel has a unique potential to come back stronger than ever in the years ahead as a primary driver of growth, equality and prosperity for people everywhere.”
And he added: “In the meantime, with our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, we will be there for our customers offering the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience from anywhere and on any device so Canadians can enjoy all of the unforgettable experiences this world has to offer.’
Read on to discover Booking.com’s 9 predictions for the future of travel:
Amidst new waves of travel hiatuses, restrictions and continued uncertainty, our innate human desire to travel has not been dampened. During recent lockdowns, 59% of Canadian travellers reported being excited about travelling again, while 75% indicated they are more appreciative of travel and will likewise not take it for granted in the future.
Canadians also report that they plan to take a similar number of trips both domestically and internationally in the 12 months after travel restrictions are lifted in their country, as they did in the year pre-pandemic (March 2019 – March 2020).
With this, we can expect travel companies to get creative in 2021 with new itineraries and recommendations designed to capture the imaginations of those who missed out on trips in 2020 and who will be looking for somewhere stunning to explore to make their next trip more meaningful.
The financial legacy of Coronavirus will inevitably see people demand more bang for their buck in the future. 62% of Canadian travellers will be more price conscious when it comes to searching and planning a trip in the future and 55% are more likely to hunt down promotions and savings, behaviours that we predict will last years.
But the value consumers expect will go beyond price tags with 78% stating they want travel booking platforms to increase their transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance options.
The industry will need to come together to respond inventively to offer deeper value, better choice, increased flexibility and transparency as well as more thoughtful experiences for tomorrow’s travellers as they scrutinize spend in 2021 and beyond.
Familiarists Not Tourists
In a new Coronavirus world, local travel has risen to the fore as it remains easier, safer and happily often more sustainable. Looking ahead, staying closer to home and becoming familiarists rather than tourists will continue to be at the forefront of travel agendas. 42% of us still plan to travel within their own country in the medium term (7-12 months’ time), with 35% planning to do so in the longer term (in over a year’s time). When it comes to local travel, 44% plan to explore a new destination within their home region/country and 47% will take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of their home country, while – locally or not, half (56%) intend to travel somewhere they’ve already been previously for its familiarity.
Canadian travellers will not write off the love of long-haul getaways, though. Appreciation for familiarity will sit alongside enduring love and anticipation of longer-haul travel as almost a quarter (22%) of people intend to travel to the other side of the world by the end of 2021, compared to only 3% by the end of 2020.
Our appetite to consume travel content, get creative with our travel plans and share our travel dreams with each other will continue to grow exponentially over the coming year.
Seeking comfort and distraction during weeks in lock-down, the overwhelming majority (94%) of travellers spent time looking for vacation inspiration, with 27% looking at potential travel destinations as often as once a week.
As restrictions continue to ebb and flow, we can expect destinations and accommodations to come up with even more inventive ways to capitalize on travellers’ heightened desire to escape reality and connect them with the experiences that await – from accommodations revamping their social media presence by leveraging content created by influencers who visited pre lockdown, to local tourist boards creating inspiring Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) content to visually showcase the best these places have to offer.
Yet, social media is not the only source of inspiration for Canadians when day-dreaming about their next trip, with 32% also opting to have a good old-fashioned chat with friends and family to spark their travel creativity.
In addition, 30% of people feel nostalgic looking through old photographs from previous vacations to help them decide on a future trip, recognizing that analog inspiration will also have a recognizable resurgence on our social media feeds. While we will see heightened mindfulness about how, where and when we share our travelling experiences in a more restricted and evolving environment, the benefits we derive from exchanging stories, when it’s been safe to travel, will fuel new trends in sharing and connecting.
Safety Cleans Up
Canadian travellers (84%) will take more precautions due to Coronavirus and will look to the travel industry to help them gear up for this new normal.
Governments, travel associations and providers will have to work cohesively to set consistent standards to help keep travellers safe, and with expectations heightened, some destinations and businesses will need to work harder to regain travellers’ trust. 68% of travellers will avoid certain destinations, and 74% expect tourist attractions to adapt to allow for social distancing.
At the same time, 76% will only book a particular accommodation if it’s clear what health and hygiene policies it has in place, with 80% favoring accommodations that have antibacterial and sanitizing products.
Short-term there will also be a change in transport preference and provisions, with more than half (53%) opting to avoid public transport for fear of contracting Coronavirus.
This will cause a longer-term shift in how people will travel to and around their vacation destinations, with more people choosing to rent or drive their own car. The ‘new normal’ will also see travellers prioritize and adhere to increased health and safety measures, with many becoming second nature sooner than we think. Just as we have become accustomed to travelling without liquids in our carry-on luggage and removing shoes to go through airport security, two-thirds (65%) will accept travelling to destinations that have health spot checks on arrival and 57% will accept wearing a mask in public.
Quarantine measures will remain less popular with far fewer (27%) Canadian travellers willing to accept these in order to travel to a particular destination.
As 42% of Canadian travellers reported they want to travel more sustainably in the future, we expect to see a more eco-conscious mindset in 2021 and beyond, as Coronavirus has amped people’s awareness about their impact on the environment and local communities.
64% expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options and travellers will consequently visit alternative destinations in a bid to avoid travelling during peak season (45%) and overcrowding (46%).
This desire also means that 68% will stay away from crowded tourist attractions, indicating that destinations will need to adapt new, smart crowd management measures to appease Canadians visiting their country.
Bye Bye 9 To 5
Working remotely has irreversibly entered the mainstream during the pandemic with the added effect that people will look to take longer trips in the future that more effectively combine work and pleasure than ever before.
No longer confined to five days a week in an office and desperate for a change of WFH, we’ll see a significant rise in the “Workcation”, with travellers looking to extend their vacation experience in new locales by staying an extra week or two to work remotely — or conversely factoring holiday around a stint of remote working. Expect laptops to become even more of a mainstay in luggage than ever before, and an attractive spot on which to rest them a must-have when choosing where to stay.
A third (33%) of Canadian travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 43% would be willing to quarantine if they could work remotely.
As we learn to live with the consequences of the pandemic in 2021 and beyond, we will be keen to embrace a new and stripped-back way of experiencing the world. So much time spent in our own homes with our loved ones has given birth to adjusted travel priorities and a desire to enjoy more of our natural resources.
Use of simple pleasure-related 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 almost three quarters of Canadians (73%) will look to appreciate more simple experiences such as spending time outdoors or with the family while on vacation.
Over half (57%) will seek out more rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences to immerse themselves into the outdoors.
Relaxing trips will also be high on the travel agenda in the ‘new normal’, with 50% saying it was their preferred type of trip followed by beach breaks (36%) and city trips (24%).
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.
Tech will help us regain the spontaneity, confidence and ease of times past, while at the same time help people travel safely and responsibly.
Already, 67% of Canadian travellers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when travelling and 65% say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to help us feel safe. 45% will want tech options to make last-minute restaurant reservations and 50% will want more self-service machines instead of ticket desks.
Almost a quarter (29%) would feel more comfortable about going to an unknown destination if they could scout it out beforehand by using virtual reality (VR).
That being said, the real thing reigns supreme with only 24% expecting to participate in more virtual/online experiences run by tourist attractions, local tours and workshops, proving that while we trust technology implicitly to bring us more convenience, personalization and peace of mind, its prime role will reside in being a conduit for, rather than a replacement (yet), for seeing, feeling and tasting it for yourself.
Go to https://www.booking.com/articles/category/future-of-travel.html for more on Booking.com’s trends for the future of travel.