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What’s Influencing Travelers in 2021?

A new fourth quarter traveler sentiment & influences study from Expedia Group Media Solutions has shed light on understanding the impact the pandemic has had on the hearts and minds of travelers globally in 2020 and forward into 2021.

Conducted with Northstar Research Partners, the study examined leisure, business and bleisure travel, with respondents representing multiple generations (the silent generation, baby boomers, generation x, millennials, and generation z).

The study found that rejuvenating and recharging is on the mind, with pandemic fatigue setting in. It's no wonder, since 6 out of 10 travelers globally had a trip cancelled as a result of COVID-19. Due to this, there's pent-up demand to travel specifically to feel refreshed and relaxed among a change of scenery.

Hygiene and flexibility also were found to be important, with travelers wanting to minimize risking their health and finances. So, what can brands and organizations do to reassure these travelers? The study suggests using imagery and messaging that clearly addresses these factors which are now top of mind for travelers—flexibility, pandemic protocols, financial security, etc. It also found that messaging on health, safety, and hygiene will play a bigger role in future destination decisions, with a third of travelers wanting to see destination messaging around social distancing measures or protocols and cleanliness standards.

Millennials specifically were found to have taken more leisure trips than other generations during the pandemic (42%), though the silent generation traveled to see family and friends at a much higher rate than other generations.

Looking ahead, 1 in 2 travelers say they're optimistic about taking a trip in the next 12 months, a good sign for the travel industry's recovery. However, the other half of travelers will need reassurance, with uncertainty growing with age. For 7 out of 10 travelers, flexibility is key to their confidence in traveling, which includes factors like travel insurance, trip protection, full cancelations and refunds on transportation and accommodations.

When it comes to transportation, the study found that 86% of travelers expect to make transportation decisions for future travel based on implemented pandemic measures, including: cleaning and disinfecting, using masks, contactless check in, physical distancing and reduced capacity. Car travel remains the most popular mode of transport, however the study anticipates other modes of transport such as air, bus and train travel to rebound post-pandemic.

The study found travelers are looking to online resources for trip planning more than pre-pandemic levels, with 24% more looking to online travel agencies; 20% more looking to destination sites; and 16% more looking to travel advertising.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.


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