The Top Factors Driving Travel Decisions

September 20, 2021

Prior to the pandemic, the world of travel was a lot simpler! Travelers were ultimately looking for a fun vacation destination and a good deal, and it was primarily pricing that was the determining factor in finalizing travel decisions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to transform the tourism and hospitality industry in what feels like a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. The rollout of vaccinations across the globe increased traveler confidence and summer travel boomed, however, the fourth COVID-19 surge of the new delta variant and increasing infection rates is now urging travelers to rethink their vacation plans. There are so many unexpected and unprecedented factors driving and shaping travel behavior and booking decisions in 2021 and beyond!

The Experian Group Traveler Value Index was created to understand the impact of the COVID pandemic on travel and the mindset of travelers, providing property managers with industry-specific insights into the shifting travel and booking behaviors resulting from the pandemic. The results are promising, showing a positive shift and rising level of optimism for the second half of 2021 with 72% of the 8,000 surveyed planning a trip in the next 12 months.

Ariane Gorin of the Expedia Group says: “As vaccination rates rise and borders open across the globe, people are ready and eager to travel. However, the months of uncertainty are weighing on their travel decisions and shifting the conventional belief that price is the top driver of bookings. These insights show people want to book with trusted travel providers that will deliver on their experiences, keep them safe, and protect their financial investments”.

Let’s take a look at the latest trends driving travel and booking decisions.

Travel is a Still a Top Priority

A recent 2021 Travel Trends Report by Expedia showed that 43% of American’s would limit dining out and take out, 38% would give up alcohol and 25% would cancel their streaming services to contribute towards their travel savings. This sentiment has not changed! Expedia’s latest research shows that 34% of travelers have larger budgets compared to 2020 with 18% stating that travel will be their top spend in 2021. This is equal to home improvement and more than entertainment (12%), buying a car (11%), and healthcare (11%).

Another interesting statistic shows that 36% of travelers would trade a pay raise for more vacation days and time off to travel. Travel is definitely still a top priority for Americans, and we’re hoping it stays that way!

Safety & Flexibility is a Key Factor

Expedia’s research reinforces the importance of safety and financial security as key factors driving travel behavior. 4 out of 5 travelers base their accommodation decisions on pandemic measures for health and hygiene with enhanced cleaning and sanitizing policies, contactless check-in, and a safe stay a top priority. Financial security (the ability to receive a full refund) and flexibility (the option to change booking dates) are also a major consideration with nearly a quarter of families ranking this important in their decision making.

The travel landscape is still unpredictable so give your guests peace of mind and build guest loyalty by ensuring them that safety and flexibility are as much a priority for you as a property manager as it is for them as a guest.

Personal Values Play a Role in Travel Decisions

While personal values differ between age groups (millennials vs. families vs. seniors), Expedia’s research shows that most travelers are seeking a deeper sense of meaning in travel, reconnecting with loved ones and supporting sustainable practices, eco-friendly activities, and travel providers that represent all walks of life and show diversity in their brand. 59% of travelers are prepared to pay more for sustainable, green, and eco-friendly travel and 65% are more likely to book their vacation with a brand that shows diversity and aligns with their core values.

Use the About Us page of your website to share your story! Storytelling is a powerful and personal way to engage with your guests, share your personal values, and build trust and loyalty.

Unique Experiences

The pandemic caused many of us to rethink our purpose, future plans, and relationships and live life a little differently. Travelers are searching for new destinations, diverse cultures, unique experiences, and bucket-list vacations. Of the travelers surveyed, 75% are likely to select a new vacation destination, 51% of travelers desire to learn about new cultures through their travels and 22% are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on their next vacation. In fact, over half the travelers surveyed stated that new experiences are the top benefit of travel.

Offering your guests unique local experiences sets you apart from the competition and provides guests a fully immersive vacation experience that extends beyond a place to stay, adding value to their vacation and awesome lifelong memories to their memory bank!

International Travel Interest Peaks

The statistics show that American’s are still choosing domestic travel with 81% of travelers surveyed considering a remote area, mountain, or small town in a nearby, drive to destination and 41% wanting more frequent, shorter getaways (market accordingly!). At the time of Expedia’s research, searches for urban destinations were on the rise (Las Vegas up 40%) and 27% of travelers were considering international travel within the upcoming year. Vaccinations have also restored a sense of freedom amongst travelers and an increased desire for travel outside of US borders with 71% of travelers comfortable having to produce a vaccine passport for international travel.

Align your Brand with Travel Trends

Nearly half the travelers surveyed (48%) are comfortable booking their vacation with a new brand or OTA they have not used before if they are trustworthy, 53% of travelers want to believe their travel provider will deliver on their promises.

Understanding your guests’ mindset and behavior combined with industry insights and the top core values driving booking decisions puts you ahead of the game to understand what’s important to your guests, align your brand with the current travel trends and capitalize on current trends with connection, commitment, and exemplary customer care.