Tripadvisor: Travel Desire Remains Strong Despite Uncertainty

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Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel platform, and Phocuswright, the leader in global travel market research, today jointly released the findings of a comprehensive new research paper into the shifting trends in global travel demand and traveller behaviours.

The report, charting the industry’s road to recovery in the wake of the ongoing pandemic titled ‘2020 – A Year in Travel: Charting the Travel Industry’s Path to Recovery’, analyses Tripadvisor’s first-party data on travel planning behaviours around the globe, as well as consumer sentiment across six major markets, to provide a unique insight into global travel trends.

Tripadvisor’s Key findings:

  • After positive signs of recovery in domestic leisure travel over the summer, demand for accommodation is now falling back in a number of markets as infection rates rise
    • Europe experienced the strongest leisure travel recovery during the summer, with the number of travellers researching domestic hotel stays reaching 2019 levels of demand for a sustained period in late July and August. However, the recent re-introduction of lockdown restrictions in countries like France, Germany and the U.K. has seen demand for rooms drop
    • Signs of recovery in Asia-Pacific were less obvious across the region as a whole between June and October, though some markets – such as Singapore – saw a surge in demand for domestic stays
  • Travellers are reassessing the type of trips they want to take…
    • Two-thirds of consumers surveyed (65%) say the ability to avoid crowded places when traveling is now a more important factor in their choice of destination than it was pre-pandemic, and more than half (52%) say they are more likely to take an outdoor/nature trip than they were before the pandemic.
    • Between May and September, outdoor activities, nature and parks accounted for thirty-four percent (34%) of all attraction page views on Tripadvisor, up from 25% in 2019.
  • …and as a result their choice of destination is changing too
    • Looking at year-on-year data over the October period, ski and seaside resorts, as well as other rural destinations, dominated the list of fastest recovering destinations in Europe for domestic accommodation searches on Tripadvisor, with Zermatt in Switzerland and Adler in Russia topping the list based on year-on-year demand
  • Despite continuing consumer uncertainty, the desire to travel remains very strong
    • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents are still thinking about where they want to travel next
  • Last minute trips are in, but so is meticulous planning
    • The advanced planning window (which is the number of days between when a trip is planned and when the trip takes place) has shortened as travellers are eager for last-minute, local getaways. In October 2020, nearly two-thirds (62%) of travellers looking for accommodation on Tripadvisor were planning to check-in less than 30 days out, compared to just over half (51%) of travellers during the same period in 2019
    • However, people’s desire to plan travel more diligently is now higher than pre-pandemic times. More than two-thirds (69%) of respondents agreed they were going to research their next trip more than they did in the past.

“While there was positive progress over the course of the summer, the re-introduction of tighter restrictions on travel in many countries is clearly having an impact on demand in the short-term,” said Steve Kaufer, chief executive officer, Tripadvisor.

An artists impression of an Etihad flight flying over Tel Aviv, Israel. Source: Etihad

According to Kaufer, “The good news is that consumers’ desire to travel remains incredibly resilient, and that pent-up demand bodes well for the travel industry in the long run, especially considering the advances announced last week in the development of a vaccine.”

Incredible Adaptability and Resilience

Charuta Fadnis, senior vice-president of research and product strategy, Phocuswright pointed out that the industry has shown incredible adaptability and resilience in what has been a long and difficult year for travel.

“Our research consistently shows that travel remains a key part of consumers’ lifestyles and travellers are keen to indulge their wanderlust again. Vaccines and therapeutics will boost the nascent recovery and the industry can look forward to brighter days ahead,” Fadnis said.

Impact and Recovery – Five Distinct Stages

  • Decline – Travel declines sharply as widespread restrictions enforced
  • Plateau – Sharp decline in bookings levels out, but travellers start dreaming their next trip
  • Emerge – Easing of travel restrictions begins, early signs of recovery in dining sector
  • Domestic Travel – Travelers book their first trips away, but stay close to home
  • International Travel – Border restrictions ease, and international travel begins to rebound

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Deputy Editor, AviatorsBuzz Aditya Anand in his nearly two decades of Journalism experience has tracked Aviation, Travel, and Hospitality closely and reported on it for major publications like The Hindu, Mumbai Mirror, and MIDDAY.