Online travel booking firm Booking.com has revealed five predictions for the future of travel, reflecting how our approach to travel and exploring our country has been reshaped by Covid-19 during 2020. Look out below for workcations, spontechnaity and search escapism - do you agree these terms predict what travel looks like in the year ahead?
Booking.com releases travel predictions annually, the insights for 2021 are more of more interest due to the impact of COVID-19.
The research indicates that New Zealanders still have a strong appetite for travel and continue to seek inspiration from a number of sources as they explore the country. And while trends such as sustainable travel continue to be a priority for travellers, new trends are emerging as the world rediscovers travel. Among these is, reflecting the increased flexibility to work remotely, a significant rise in people looking to ‘work from holiday’. Many travellers will also be looking for tech innovations to rebuild confidence in travel in 2021 and beyond.
The research surveyed more than 20,000 travellers across 28 countries, including 499 from New Zealand.
With few facets of our lives and world unchanged by the unparalleled impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel too will be forever re-shaped by this extraordinary moment in time. Innovation within the travel industry will accelerate faster than ever to respond to marked shifts in travel expectations and behaviours. Travellers will look for a heightened level of travel safety and more sustainable travel offerings, while also looking to find new ways to blur the lines between work and travel.
With nearly half of New Zealand travellers agreeing they won’t be comfortable travelling until a Covid-19 vaccine or treatment is in place (46%), it may be a long time before we experience the world as freely as we did previously, but the industry will continue to adapt at pace, satiating our appetite to travel whenever it’s safe to do so.
Prediction 1: Bye Bye 9 to 5 - Workcation's are here
The pandemic irrevocably altered our ability to work from anywhere - even holiday. No longer confined to five days a week in an office and desperate for a change of scene from Working From Home (WFH), we’ll see a significant rise in the “Workcation”. Expect laptops to become even more of a mainstay in luggage than ever before, and an attractive spot on which to rest them a must-have when choosing where to stay.
Nearly a third (32%) of travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 44% would be willing to quarantine if they could work remotely. Travel platforms and places to stay will prioritise showcasing home office facilities and Wi-Fi speed in an attempt to attract this new wave of digital nomads.
Prediction 2: Spontechnaity
Tech innovation will play a crucial role in rebuilding traveller confidence. Already, 61% of travellers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when travelling and 56% say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travellers feel safe.
The innovations coming next are predicted to bring even more change, with enhanced online experiences influencing future travel behaviour and planning. Three in ten (29%) of travellers would feel more comfortable about going to an unknown destination if they could scout it out beforehand by using virtual reality (VR). That being said, the real thing reigns supreme with only 22% expecting to participate in more virtual/online experiences run by tourist attractions, local tours and workshops, proving that while we trust technology implicitly to bring us more convenience, personalisation and peace of mind, its prime role will reside in being a conduit for, rather than a replacement (yet), for seeing, feeling and tasting it for yourself.
Prediction 3: Search Escapism
While much travel may have been put on hold in 2020, dreams of far flung destinations have not. During weeks in lock-down, the overwhelming majority (95%) of travellers spent time looking for vacation inspiration, with over a third (34%) looking at potential travel destinations as often as once a week.
As restrictions continue to ebb and flow, Booking.com expects destinations and accommodations to come up with even more inventive ways to capitalise on travellers’ heightened desire to escape reality and connect them with the experiences that await – from accommodations revamping their social media presence by leveraging content created by influencers who visited pre lockdown, to local tourist boards creating inspiring Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) content to visually showcase the best these places have to offer.
Prediction 4: Impact Awakening
The impact Covid-19 has had on the environment will be inspiring more travellers to make more sustainable travel choices in 2021 but the onus will be on the travel industry with two-thirds (60%) of travellers expecting the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options. Travellers believe that the industry must adapt to this sustainable mindset for the long-term by offering more attractive off-season travel packages (54%) and proposing alternative destinations to prevent overcrowding (32%).
There are also strong signals for travel operators to be more transparent about how travellers’ money is being used to rebuild a community, paving the way for more regenerative tourism. Two-thirds (63%) of respondents indicate that they want their travel choices to also support the destination’s recovery efforts, and half (50%) want to see how their money is going back into the local community.
Prediction 5: Vital Value
The financial legacy of Covid-19 will inevitably see people demand more bang for their buck in the future. 62% of travellers will be more price conscious when it comes to searching and planning a trip in the future and 52% are more likely to hunt down promotions and savings, behaviours that Booking.com predicts will last years.
But the value consumers expect will go beyond price tags with three-quarters (75%) stating they want travel booking platforms to increase their transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance options.
While the majority of travellers are keen to support the industry in its recovery (87%) and want their future bookings to help rebuild communities around the world (63%), they will expect more from the travel industry in return. The travel industry may benefit from coming together to respond inventively to offer deeper value, better choice, increased flexibility and transparency as well as more thoughtful experiences for tomorrow’s travellers as they scrutinise spend in 2021 and beyond.
Todd Lacey, Area Manager New Zealand at Booking.com comments: “In New Zealand, perhaps more so than many countries, the impact the pandemic has had on travel has been keenly felt. While the future of international travel remains uncertain, the ability to explore our own backyard continues to bring moments of joy and inspiration, whether through dreaming and planning, or cherishing the trips we have been able to take.”