A New View: Given how quickly the landscape is changing in the current crisis, an Expedia Group team ran a sentiment study in July with research experts dscout.* Explained Monya Mandich, global vice president, marketing, for Expedia: “We asked a panel of travelers in the U.S. as well as in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the U.K. to tell us about their upcoming travel plans and explain what is driving their decisions when it comes to booking trips at this time. Respondents to the online survey were qualified as already having had a leisure trip planned and/or booked for June-December 2020. As well as detailed study responses to a number of questions, we were also able to see and hear from travelers through online video testimonials, helping uncover deeper insight into their attitudes and motivations.
* A Chicago-based online research company
Here is a snapshot of what the research team saw from the study, including a couple of the themes that Expedia says “bubbled up.”
Health and hygiene information are key: As travel shoppers evaluate their destination, accommodation, and transportation options, around nine in ten of them want to see information on health and cleanliness before booking. Above all else, travelers want to be reassured that it is safe for them to travel and they want to see relevant information and messaging from travel brands. We recommend that destinations, lodging and transportation advertising partners use marketing messages and content to explicitly outline the health measures they are taking.
Domestic car trips are trending: With only 26 percent of travelers comfortable traveling by plane one month from now, destinations should target drive markets to attract potential visitors. Proactively sharing information on open businesses, off-the-beaten-path activities, socially distanced experiences, and more will help would-be visitors get inspired and plan their trip. The likelihood of visitors renting a car for a leisure trip is three times higher than pre-COVID levels, representing a huge opportunity for rental companies.
Vacation rentals prove popular: Travelers are most comfortable staying in a vacation rental—chain hotels, and resorts come in a close second during the COVID-19 crisis. Lodging providers can attract potential guests by leading with their flexible cancellation policies and detailed health and safety information. Hotels and resorts can also share information on nearby activities that are open for business and incorporate special deals to help make the booking decision even easier.
Travelers turning to OTAs throughout the purchase journey: Along with insights into destination, accommodation, and travel preferences, the research shows travelers are turning to a variety of resources for trip inspiration, planning, and booking right now, including online travel agencies (OTAs). Nearly half of respondents turn to an OTA for inspiration, 73 percent for planning and 93 percent would use an OTA to book travel in this environment, illustrating an opportunity for travel brands to drive awareness and demand with a highly qualified audience.