The travel industry is pinning its hopes of recovery on consumers' innate desire to travel and pent-up demand, according to multiple surveys conducted among respondents from US, UK, Australia, Italy, Singapore and Japan.
Tripadvisor's "2020 — A Year in Travel: Charting the Travel Industry’s Path to Recovery" research, carried out in partnership with Phocuswright, shows that 65% of consumers are still thinking about their next destination.
However, they are seeking different kinds of leisure trips, with nearly two-thirds looking to avoid crowded places and 52% more likely to take an outdoor trip than before the pandemic. This, the two research teams believe, could also be indicative of a longer-term behaviour change that may last beyond the pandemic.
For instance, 42% of Singapore's travellers are more likely to include nature for their next trip, while general sentiments point to 54% of travellers looking to relax and 47% including nature in their itineraries.
The trend is supported in choice of accommodation with hotel searches on Tripadvisor revealing quicker than average recovery for properties in the "quaint" or "romantic" categories while properties deemed to be "centrally located" are recovery at a slower rate than the average.
As 2020 progressed, concerns around health and safety remained the top factor hospitality businesses needed to address. Of six different markets surveyed, two-thirds (66%) consider safety and cleanliness of properties as important when traveling locally.
For those that are keen and open to travel, last minute trips are popular, although it goes hand-in-hand with greater planning.
The advanced planning window, the days between a trip being planned and departure, has shortened.
Last month, 62% of travellers looking for accommodation on Tripadvisor were planning to check in less than 30 days out, compared to 51% for the same period in 2019.
In addition, 69% say they will research their next trip more than they have in the past.
Default to domestic a success for Singapore, China
As global governments continue to waver on the reopening of borders, so have consumer confidence. On Tripadvisor, hotel clicks to international destinations remained stubbornly flat across every major market from April onwards.
48% of U.S. respondent for instance say they feel more confident of travel’s safety in the next three months compared to the previous three.
Confidence to travel was the lowest from respondents in Italy at 12%.
Over in APAC, many destinations have made the pivot to domestic sales, although demand for hotels remained well short of 2019 benchmarks throughout the summer months — except for certain Asian countries.
In Singapore, the success story lies in staycations, as reflected in findings from Tripadvisor's report. Growth for domestic hotel stays surpassed 2019 levels in July, and by October, demand had shot up significantly higher than last year's benchmarks.
Over in China, Phocuswright research show that staycations too are proving popular with Chinese consumers, where families in particular are attracted to high-end properties offering resort-like amenities in urban and metropolitan centers. As with global trends, rural areas with fewer people and beach destinations are welcoming an influx of travellers.
The joint research combined Tripadvisor's firsthand site analytics, with Phocuswright’s insights. Data was drawn from online surveys of up to 2,400 consumers each time, conducted about every two weeks starting from 27 March through 21 October.