SEATTLE — Travellers are now prioritizing their budgets to accommodate future travel, says new research from Expedia Group.
According to the Traveler Value Index, which examined the travel views of 8,000 people in eight countries, positive sentiments are being reported for several key trends including vaccine passports, increased budgets and safety and financial security.
“As vaccination rates rise and borders open across the globe, people are ready and eager to travel. However, the months of uncertainty are weighing on their travel decisions and shifting the conventional belief that price is the top driver of bookings,” said Ariane Gorin, president, Expedia for Business, Expedia Group. “These insights show people want to book with trusted travel providers that will deliver on their experiences, keep them safe, and protect their financial investments.”
Here are some key highlights from the Index:
Improved outlook for 2021 and beyond
Despite a period of uncertainty, people are making travel a financial priority. More than a third (34%) of travellers have larger travel budgets now compared to 2020. In fact, nearly one in five respondents globally (18%) expect travel to be the activity they spend most on in 2021, on par with major spending items such as home renovation (18%) and ahead of entertainment (12%), buying or taking care of a car (11%) or healthcare (11%). Additionally, more than a third (36%) said they would trade a pay raise for more vacation days.
Travellers are also thinking differently about the frequency and length of travel. Many (60%) are opting for domestic travel in the short-term, however they are planning to get away more often, with nearly half (41%) wanting more frequent, shorter trips.
The outlook for international travel is also improving, with 27% of travellers considering a trip to another country in the next year. Nearly three-quarters (71%) said they are comfortable showing a vaccine passport to travel internationally.
As for travel trends, the research shows an increased desire for new and different experiences over nostalgic destinations, with 75% of travellers likely to select a destination they’ve never been to before. Additionally, 52% are likely to use a new mode of transportation, while 22% said they are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on their next trip.
Combining travel with personal values
Travellers continue to make value-based decisions that reflect their own personal views when booking travel. The Traveler Value Index shows that travellers want to support sustainable practices, with 59% willing to pay higher fees to make their trip more sustainable.
Additionally, 65% are more likely to book with travel providers that have inclusive policies. This includes properties that are owned by women and/or people of colour, a pro-LGBTQIA+ stance, and those that are supportive of people with disabilities.
Financial security and safety
The Traveler Value Index ranked the factors that are shaping booking decisions across multiple travel experiences, including:
- The ability to get a full refund if their plans change;
- Atypical, low pricing cause by low demand during the pandemic;
- Contactless experiences like card-less hotel or vacation rental entry, online check-ins, or digital boarding passes;
- Environmentally friendly policies such as a reduced use of plastics or locally sourced food and products;
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures;
- Flexible policies to change bookings;
- First-class benefits and upgrade.
Financial security and safety rank as the highest priorities for travellers across all experiences, a shift from the conventional thought that price drives consumer behaviour.
More than one in four travellers most value the ability to get a refund, particularly for airline (26%) and vacation rental (26%) experiences, followed by enhanced cleaning and disinfection. The results highlight a need for travel providers to clearly communicate cancellation policies and cleanliness measures to help ease any concerns and build confidence.
The age factor
The Travel Value Index also shows differences in values by age group, indicating that younger groups are less focused on price and refunds. These include:
- For hotels and vacation rentals, the ability to get a full refund increases in value with age. However, travellers under the age of 40 in the US and Japan rank enhanced cleaning the most important factor in hotel bookings, while also seeing more value in contactless experiences and premium benefits.
- Airline travel decisions are also shaped by financial security, where more than a quarter of respondents (26%) most value the ability to get a full refund. However, millennial and Gen Z travellers, or travellers under the age of 40, see more value in contactless experiences, first-class benefits, and environmentally friendly policies compared to older generations.
- North American millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, value flexibility in car rental decisions, ranking the ability to make changes second. The trend of North American millennials valuing flexibility is also evident in air travel, showing how the ability to change plans without penalty is worth just as much as lower pricing.
- Cruise passengers are the only respondents from numerous countries who rank low pricing as the top value. However, North American Gen Z travellers, or those born in 1997 onwards, rank environmentally friendly policies second in the list of values, showing that younger age groups weigh the environmental impact of their travel decisions in addition to price.
To download the full Traveler Value Index report click here.