SURVEY: What Types of Leisure Travel Should We Expect in the Next Year of Travel?

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Around the world, citizens are travelling less than they ever have. This should come as no surprise as, in the wake of pandemic-issued travel restrictions and lockdown measures, non-essential travel has, for many, been taken entirely off the table. For now, that is… but not forever.

According to a Q2 survey from our data partners GWI to gauge the future travel behaviour of over 1,000 USA and Canadian panelists and, fortunately for the travel and hospitality industry, the desire to travel appears to be alive and well. 

As the saying goes, “it’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later”. While many of our 2020 vacation plans have been put on hold, the trend of halted travel behavior is not expected to continue. Like all things, this too shall pass.

If anything, it would seem that the pandemic has put travel into perspective for many, inspiring a new wave of ‘staycation’ and domestic travel trends, in tandem with a renewed enthusiasm for the return of travel opportunities. A recent article published to Forbes reiterated this observation, quoting an eager traveler based in California who explained that, come 2021, he wants to travel as much as he can. “I will be spending more time in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand to make up for lost time,” he said. As global populations continue to adapt to COVID-19 and implement gradual recovery efforts, travel is poised to make a promising comeback. And yes, travelers are already thinking about it — and, in some cases, they’re already booking ahead.

For the purpose of the survey, panelists were asked: 

Which type(s) of vacation do you think you’ll take in the next 12 months? 

Within the participating group, only 34.6% indicated that they do not plan to take any vacations in the near future, indicating that the grand majority of participants do, in fact, have travel plans for the end of 2020, and early 2021.

Foreign Short-Haul & Long Haul Vacations and Cruises

Foreign short-haul vacations (4%) and cruises (5.8%) came in last, with only a small percentage of respondents anticipating these forms of travel in their near future. This isn’t entirely surprising, as cruise ships were revealed as a hot-spot for COVID-19 transmission in the early stages of the pandemic.

At 7.8%, foreign long-haul vacations fared slightly better than the short-term alternative.

A New Take on Travel — Staycations and Domestic Trips

Now, here’s the good news. Of those surveyed, 43.9% revealed intentions to take a domestic vacation in their country, while 25.4% plan to take a ‘staycation’ in their local area. This upward trend began back in May, as stay-at-home orders were lifted and individuals and groups could once again consider domestic travel, road trips, and staycations in urban hubs or popular, local hot-spots.

To this effect, Airbnb revealed that domestic bookings in the first week of June had increased by 30% compared to the same week the previous year. Prior to COVID-19, 40% of all Airbnb bookings in Canada were domestic, while 60% were from international visitors. Meanwhile, staycations are seeing a notable surge in popularity (as revealed by Google Trends), as countless hotels and travel companies around the world are pivoting their offerings to appeal to local travelers. Moreover, as individuals adjusted to a ‘work-from-home’ format and the realities of quarantine, staycations were revealed as a valuable and accessible escape.

For the hospitality industry, the takeaway is simple: Don’t go quiet. This represents the perfect opportunity to engage with travelers, and continue marketing efforts that appeal to current trends and preferences, and an expected large-scale recovery.

After all, the appetite for travel has yet to subside, so why not set the table?