New Expedia™ study shows a re-awakening among markets, as well as confirmation of what most of us already new—NYC is the only Top Ten destination in all four major world regions.
For the business quarter since the very end of 2019 and up to the beginning of 2022, the global outlook for the tourism and travel industry was mired in a muddy mess. The Expedia Group™ 2021 Q4 Travel Recovery Trend Report, which was put together using a mountainous collection of data, is encouraging—even as the recent Omicron variant of COVID 19 has wreaked havoc all over the globe. As the document put it, “Despite a bumpy quarter, there is still a tremendous appetite for travel compared to 2020. Global search volume in Q4 was flat quarter-over-quarter, but up over 70 percent year-over-year, indicating that travelers are still eager to get away.”
Shaped in the penumbra of a fading pandemic, the Expedia report tells us, “After nearly two years of the pandemic, consumers have learned how to travel under everchanging circumstances, based on their comfort level and local government and health guidance.” It added, “We anticipate that travelers will continue to adapt their travel behaviors and preferences as the landscape changes. Year-over-year progress is encouraging, and we remain confident in the power of travel and the resilience of both the industry and travelers.”
What follows is a series of written snapshots which present most of the elements of the Expedia Group’s 2021 Q4 Travel Recovery Trend Report.
● Appetites Continue to Grow: Despite a bumpy quarter, says Expedia, there is still a tremendous appetite for travel compared to 2020. Global search volume in Q4 was flat quarter-over-quarter, but up over 70 percent year-over-year, indicating that travelers are still eager to get away. In the APAC, search volumes were up nearly 35 percent over Q3.
● Search Windows Lengthen as Borders Reopen: As more borders around the world reopened to international travelers in Q4, and travel shoppers booked ahead for the winter holiday season, global share of searches in the 31+ day search window grew 15 percent quarter-over-quarter, taking share primarily from the 0- to 21–day search window.
● Consistent Demand for Long-Haul Destinations: Demand was sustained for destinations beyond travelers’ home regions, and big cities continued to be an attractive choice for travelers around the world. The APAC region had four new destinations enter the top 10 in Q4 – more than any other region.
● Vacation Rentals Maintain Popularity: In Q4, global lodging bookings (including both hotels and vacation rentals) were up more than 50 percent year-over-year. Looking at quarter-over-quarter demand globally, in Q4 there was a shift from hotels to vacation rentals, prompted in large part by the busy holiday travel season and vacation rentals’ continued popularity among friends and families traveling together.
● Appetite Continues to Grow: Evidence continues to build that travel shoppers are ready to see the world again. Compared to Q3, overall global search volume in Q4 remained relatively flat, but when compared to the same period in 2020, global search volume was up 70 percent. Results from a different
● The Expedia survey in eight countries (U.S., Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia) found that 81 percent of travelers are planning to take a leisure trip in the next six months, with North American and European travelers showing the greatest propensity to travel for leisure during the same time (86 percent).
Global Search Demand Trends
● Australia’s Re-opening Gave Q4 a Positive Start: Following Australia’s October 1 announcement that it would reopen its borders to international travelers in November, global searches increased 5% week-over-week. And during the week of October 11, APAC international searches saw a 25 percent lift week-over-week.
● November 8 end to U.S. Border Restrictions Provided a Global Boost: The reopening piqued interest for Germans as traveler search volume for trips from Germany to the U.S. jumped more than 300 percent from October to December 2021, moving from the 43rd position to 13th among searches for Q4.
● Searches Spike at the End of December: Global week-over-week searches spiked during the week of December 27, possibly due to travelers reacting to thousands of delayed or canceled flights. However, this heightened interest continued into the first weeks of 2022.
● Search Windows Lengthen with Border Re-openings: As borders around the world continued reopening to international travelers in Q4, there was a lengthening in global search windows. Forty percent of global searches fell within the 31-plus-day search window, a 15 percent increase over Q3, taking share primarily from the 0- to 21–day search window.
● Regionally, EMEA saw the greatest swing toward longer search windows in Q4, with the 31-plus day search window increasing 30 percent over Q3. NORAM and APAC saw minor shifts in search window share for the 31- day search window, while LATAM was flat.
● International Search Window: More borders opened around the world, resulting in changes to international search window share quarter-over-quarter and fluctuations throughout Q4. Forty percent of global international searches occurred in the 0-to-21–day search window, a 10 percent decline from Q3, while share for the 31- to 90–day search window grew 20% quarter-over-quarter
● Consistent Demand for Long-haul Destinations (with More to Come): The trend that Expedia first identified in Q2, of travelers looking and booking destinations further afield—outside of their region of the world—continued into Q4. LATAM led this trend, to the extent that five out of the top 10 most in-demand destinations for travelers living there were located in other parts of the world. Plus, non-APAC destinations— Dubai and Honolulu—made up two of the four new entrants to the APAC top 10, with Sydney and Singapore also joining that list.
Top 10 Booked Destinations by Region
|1. Seoul||1. London||1. Mexico City||1. New York|
|2. Tokyo||2. Dubai||2. New York||2. Las Vegas|
|3. Seogwipo||3. New York||3. Cancun||3. Orlando|
|4. Sydney*||4. Paris||4. Rio de Janeiro||4. Los Angeles|
|5. New York||4. Istanbul||5. Sao Paulo||5. Cancun|
|6. Singapore*||6. Copenhagen||6. Paris||6. Miami*|
|7. Busan||7. Stockholm||7. Orlando*||7. Chicago|
|8. Dubai*||8. Amsterdam*||8. Playa del Carmen||8. Honolulu|
|9. Honolulu*||9. Berlin||9. Las Vegas||9. Atlanta|
|10. London||10. Barcelona||10. Madrid||10. Francisco|
* New Top Ten Destination
● In contrast, North America–based travelers continued to book closer to home, with Cancun being the only destination outside the region making the top 10 list for NORAM bookers. However, this tendency looks likely to change in 2022: Expedia’s 2022 Travel Trends Report found that 68 percent of Americans are planning to go big on their next trip, and many are eyeing intercontinental destinations. (Note that NYC is in the Top Ten in all four global regions.)
● Vacation Rentals Maintain Popularity: In Q4, global lodging bookings— for hotels and vacation rentals combined—were up more than 50 percent year-over-year. Comparing bookings in Q3 and Q4, there was a shift in share from hotels to vacation rentals – no doubt prompted by the busy holiday travel season and continued popularity of vacation rentals among friends and family groups. LATAM had a particularly strong quarter for vacation rental bookings, which were up more than 100 percent quarter-over-quarter.