Top 8 booking and travel trends in 2021

By Charlotte Winterbourne

Ahead of the new year, Booking.com has utilised its vast database to gather insights from over 20,000 travellers from 28 countries, to find out what they are anticipating for the future of travel and tourism and determine 2021 travel trends. With 2020 creating a year of new challenges and uncertainties, these trend predictions reflect travellers’ ongoing changes in behaviours, and what they have come to expect after the impact of COVID-19 in 2021.

  1. The rise of the half-tourist

With millions of people learning the benefits and negatives of working from home, and the consequential acceleration of digital adoption and connectivity, many have found a new sense of freedom while working from anywhere with an internet connection. Those desperate for a change of scenery from their own homes will be taking a ‘workcation’, factoring holiday around a stint of remote working, with 37% already considering booking somewhere to work in a different location, and 40% stating that they’re happy to quarantine after an international trip if they can work remotely.

Tip: Ensure office facilities such as high-speed wifi, and desks or co-working spaces, are available and promoted to all guests, not just your corporate groups.

  1. Wandermust

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed shared they are more appreciative of travel post-lockdown, and 38% hope to plan a trip to make up for milestones missed due to the pandemic, showcasing the large hole that lack of travel has left in many people’s lives. Travellers plan to take the same amount of both domestic and international trips as they did pre-pandemic once travel restrictions are lifted and will begin to start planning now.

Tip: With many celebrations missed this year, consumers will be looking to make them extra special in 2021, meaning higher expectations of guest experience and personalisation. Create offerings that meet these needs, by offering Champagne in their rooms, or once-in-a-lifetime experiences they can use to mark milestones.

  1. The value of value

Many have faced financial difficulty this year, and therefore 62% of travellers will be more price conscious than they have previously been when researching a future getaway. Their requirement for flexibility is also key, with 46% saying that refundable accommodation is essential for booking, or 36% saying that changing dates free of charge must be offered.

Tip: Don’t devalue your brand by driving down your prices. Instead offer value to guests by including additional benefits or promotions to the price, which will also allow you to enhance their experience and share your hotel’s personality.

  1. Close to home

As international, and inter-regional travel restrictions continue to dominate people’s plans, many consumers are opting to travel closer to home in the knowledge that their trip won’t be cancelled. Nearly half (47%) plan to travel within their own country in the 7-12 months, and a further 38% plan to do so in the next year or more, while 43% are hoping to discover a new destination within their local area or country.

Tip: Ensure your Google My Business listing and other key SEO criteria are up to date, to ensure you target locals looking for a staycation close to home.

  1. Safety first

It’s no surprise that travellers will be more cautious than ever before about health and safety standards, and 70% of those surveyed will now only book accommodation if they clearly showcase their hygiene policies. Places they have already visited and not met these standards will lose out, with 59% saying they’ll avoid certain destinations due to lack of precautions.

Tip: Place your safety precautions front and centre with a pop-up or banner on your website’s homepage that can link to more details. Clearly displaying your COVID accreditations will also help to garner trust.

  1. Green travel

A rising trend for years, over half of traveller’s plan to travel more sustainably in the future, including through their transport, accommodation and experiences. More than two-thirds (69%) expect to have the choice of a sustainable travel option, and travellers will also seek alternative destinations to help reduce overcrowding (48%) and visiting during peak times (51%).

Tip: Simply banning plastic straws from your bar won’t cut it anymore. Make sure to think about your entire guest journey and how you can help introduce sustainability practices throughout, from removing plastic keycards, to analysing food consumption to stop breakfast buffets going to waste.

  1. Pure experiences

Having spent so much time indoors this year, travellers are seeking wide open spaces to explore, with many wanting to carry out their newfound lockdown hobbies while away. Use of outdoorsy terms like hiking (94%), clean air (50%), and nature (44%) have increased on Booking.com since the start of the pandemic, while 56% are looking for rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences to immerse themselves into the outdoors.

Tip: Even if you don’t directly offer outdoors experiences, ensure these are included on your website and social media to help guests find your property when searching for hotels in relation to key terms.

  1. Spontechnaity

Technology has helped many comply with social distancing measures, and hotels will need to continue to adopt new innovations to keep travellers safe. Already, 64% of travellers agree that tech can help control health risks when traveling and 63% say that hotels will need to adopt the latest technologies to make them feel safe.

Tip: Tech options can also aid personalisation and guest experiences, with self-service check-in machines, WhatsApp concierge or restaurant billing apps reducing waiting times and human error.

Discover how Custard can support your marketing and communications strategy in line with your customers evolving needs by contacting our team today.

To read the full write-up of Booking.com’s 2021 trends via Boutique Hotelier, click here.