The travel industry might have ground to a halt in 2020, but that only means that travelers are eager to get going again in 2021.
How will travel look like in the coming year? Using results of surveys of over 20,000 travelers in 28 countries, coupled with insights from their own data, travel website Booking.com has published the results of their research to predict what the future of travel might look like, in 2021 and beyond.
Here are the first three key trends that we can expect to see in 2021:
We’ll work from home…away from home
The pandemic shook up the way we work in many ways — and if there’s one welcome development from all that, it’s that many were freed from the daily commute to the office. This might be the way work will be like for a while, as more people are looking into long-term remote-work arrangements.
According to the study, we might see more travelers on “workations” that combine work and pleasure. Over a third (37%) of travelers worldwide said they would now consider working from a different destination, while over half of (52%) said they would be willing to extend business trips so that they could schedule in some leisure time. Many are also likely to add a week or two to their holiday in order to work remotely.
Travelers will rely more on technology
Technology will figure into travel — and we don’t mean just for GPS. While vaccines are already being rolled out all over the world, Covid-19 is still a top concern for travelers in 2o21, and 64% agree that technology will play a key role in controlling health risks while on the road. A majority (63%) also say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make them feel safe.
Flexibility is more important than ever, with more than half (53%) of travelers saying they want convenient tech options to make last-minute reservations. Almost a quarter (21%) of travelers are also looking for more contactless options at airports — like self-service machines instead of ticket desks.
Technology allows us to find what we’re looking for more efficiently. More than half (55%) of travelers are excited about tech’s potential to further personalize their travel experiences, while 36% say they would feel more comfortable visiting a new destination if they could get a sneak peek using virtual reality.
Travelers will want flexibility and value for money
Thanks to the economic impact of the pandemic, Booking.com predicts that “we can expect people to prioritize value for money, booking transparency and flexibility now more than ever, with these behaviors predicted to last years.” More than half (62%) of travelers say budget will be a consideration when planning and booking their next trip, with 55% saying they will be more likely to hunt down promotions and savings.
The pandemic has also made it essential to keep updated with changing travel requirements. As a result, 74% of travelers said they want travel booking platforms to increase transparency around cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance options. Flexibility will be important: almost half (46%) of travelers say they will consider refundable accommodation a must-have, while 36% will want the flexibility to change the check-in dates without being charged.
The good news is that everyone in the travel industry seems to understand that we’re in this together — the Booking.com study finds that 70% say they are keen to support the recovery of the travel industry. The majority of travelers (67%) also want to ensure that their future bookings will help rebuild local communities around the world that have been affected by the pandemic.