TourismSolved - Traveler Behaviors in COVID: Research findings from OTAs

Digital Agency for the Tourism Industry

Our Thinking

Traveler Behaviors in COVID: Research findings from OTAs

The pandemic has paused travel, but people are still eager to get out and explore. Here is some of the most recent research on what could be the future for traveler behaviors, according to Get Your Guide and Tripadvisor.

1st Aug 2020

The coronavirus has put a pause on most global travelers’ plans, and the reality is no one can really know what could change even a month from now, depending where you are in the world. Until 2020, Americans alone were spending around a trillion dollars per year traveling—second to China—with $2.2 billion accounting for domestic travel, according to a comprehensive report researched by UK-based Condor Ferries. 

Still we’ve seen enough research come out to show, with a focus on the United States, that people are looking for ways to get out of their homes safely, and that means some sort of road trip is still the best bet. 

According to a recent article by the San Francisco Chronicle, used car sales reached a record high in the U.S. in July 2020, an 11% increase from the previous year. The data suggests a main driver for this is to avoid public transit, but there’s also evidence that people recognize buying a car could mean freedom to take their family on vacation as most air travel is off limits unless deemed essential. 

As travel restrictions and health guidelines change frequently, pent-up demand is going to pose new challenges to suppliers and travel companies alike, according to a new Skift report suggesting that airlines, hotels, destination marketing organizations, and online travel agencies (OTAs) have long relied on “perfect forecasting,” a planning strategy that has been turned on its head. Being agile is necessary, especially as some markets are already experiencing surges in bookings, albeit in short windows of 5 days or less, as Phocuswire reported on a similar trend. So what are some of the industry predictions when it comes to how travelers will explore, both domestically and internationally? And more importantly: Are you ready to capture these last-minute bookers as travel slowly returns? 

Research findings by Get Your Guide and Tripadvisor

Here are some key takeaways from the latest reports released by Get Your Guide and Tripadvisor that could help tour operators and suppliers prepare now for more local travel. 

Family is the priority

As of summer 2020, Zoom family calls and happy hours are not cutting it anymore. In Get Your Guide’s recent survey, conducted in partnership with Dynata, the desire to see friends and family is a top travel motivator, cited by 43% of respondents. Tripadvisor reports similar findings beyond the States, with 80% of their 2,190 respondents (U.S., U.K., Australia, Japan, and Singapore) citing they will be most likely to take a trip with family after Covid-19. 

TourismSolved’s advice: Now is the time to look at your product offerings to see what you can do to develop new family-friendly experiences, or review existing ones to ensure you can target family travel with kid-friendly and mobility-friendly perks that attract multigenerational families. If you don’t know where to start, contact us to work with our experienced business development team.

Flexible cancellations and deals are more important than ever

While it may be safe to assume that consumers are more likely to convert when offered discounts, Get Your Guide’s survey suggests that flexible bookings and cancellation policies could be even more effective when it comes to generating bookings. They cite that 34% of American respondents said a company’s flexibility would make them most comfortable with making a future booking, followed by discounts (19%). Tripadvisor’s research reinforce this message, citing 76% of its American and international respondents saying it will be key for them to feel confident to book tours and activities. 

TourismSolved’s advice: Now is the right time to be sure your infrastructure is in place to accommodate travelers who want to book experiences, all with the peace of mind that they can easily change the date or cancel the booking depending on their health and safety conditions. Learn more how we can help you optimize your sales channels today. 

Trips will be by car (especially for North Americans)

We've mentioned that it's more important than ever to think local, starting with updating your Google My Business. In Tripadvisor’s research report, which combined quantitative surveys and site traffic data, they talk about the five stages of recovery—notably the “domestic stage.” Respondents and traffic trends show that being closer to home is a recurring theme, with “nearly half (44%) of consumers saying they are more likely to take a road trip, and two thirds (61%) saying they are most comfortable taking a road trip for 3-5 days, possibly due to perceptions that such trips are less risky, since they typically involve contact with fewer people than other forms of travel.”

One interesting additional insight in the Tripadvisor report is that Canadians may be more willing to travel abroad sooner, as conditions or safety measures improve.

TourismSolved’s advice: Catering to in-destination travelers (in this case locals) will be key to getting bookings. Identify and target key audiences in your market now to build brand awareness and engagement. Discover how we can help you acquire and re-engage your target audiences with cost-effective marketing strategies today. 

Build confidence with informative, safety-minded content 

People have more time than ever to start researching and dreaming up their future trip, and you need to be prepared to offer up-to-date, accurate information about your tours and activities. Tripadvisor and Get Your Guide both refer to the importance of including safety protocols such as social distancing, group sizes, and cleaning methods. While Tripadvisor mentions the appeal of private and small-group tours, Get Your Guide says that "U.S. travelers consider walking tours the safest travel activity: 43 percent of respondents rated them “safe” or “very safe,” followed closely by outdoor attractions at 42 percent." 

TourismSolved's advice: As you begin to revise or create new content, especially for these product types, be sure you are thorough in the information you offer up. Think about what you as a traveler would want to read or see (videos or photos) before deciding to book. Be sure to then review your product descriptions and look for ways to improve the writing to address travelers' questions and concerns. We can connect you to professional copywriters and photographers to craft unique content that will address travelers' concerns as well as give them a reason to believe that you are the tour operator to trust when it comes to a safe, memorable experience. 

Get Started Today

You have a huge opportunity to optimize your product offerings now in a way that drives direct bookings, and improves your product listings for OTAs. We are here to help, let's talk today!