As summer fades into the rearview mirror, the travel industry finds itself in a bit of a flux.
On the one hand, things are much better than they were this time last year: travel rebounded in a big way during Spring and Summer, and many of those positive travel trends appear primed to carry right into the Fall months.
On the other hand, pandemic concerns continue to fluctuate and cause uncertainty, forcing both lodging providers and travelers to remain flexible and open-minded.
The good news is that we’ve known for a long time what guests want during COVID-19, and really, not much has changed: travelers are still gravitating to vacation homes that are impeccably clean and accompanied by flexible booking policies. The 2021 travel trends that experts identified at the beginning of the year are certainly still relevant today.
So what’s new? Here’s a roundup of the latest travel trends and industry news:
In the Spring, Expedia—like many others—was still trying to answer the question, “Who’s going to travel in 2021?” Their research revealed key generational differences, as well as just how effective promotions and merchandising opportunities are for lodging providers hoping to target specific audiences.
Expedia’s latest data reveals some promising figures: more than 75% of Expedia’s American survey respondents claim that they will travel in the next year, with 67% of Canadians on the same trajectory. Here’s another interesting note: in Q2, booking patterns shifted noticeably to cities, with places like San Diego, Chicago, and New York re-establishing their place atop the travel mantel as travelers grew increasingly comfortable in urban settings.
Oh, and cleanliness was still the highest-ranked consideration for U.S travelers, which means cleaning and hygiene protocols need to remain a top priority. No surprise there!
Recently, Travel + Leisure teamed up with Vrbo to report the growing popularity of off-season travel expected for the Fall. In that report, Vrbo travel expert Melanie Fish told T+L, “Travelers may also be taking their beach or lake vacation later because they just couldn’t get the house or condo they wanted in July or August.”
That’s definitely the case as the calendar flips into the “shoulder season,” with destinations like Hawaii experiencing off-the-charts demand. On Booking.com, U.S. travelers on the hunt for a “second summer” in the weeks after Labor Day are flocking to Florida, which is the top-searched state on the site of late. Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas are also enjoying an uptick in popularity.
Finally, with pandemic uncertainties still very much present, the New York Times dug into a new travel trend referred to as “trip stacking.” Basically, travelers are purchasing two trips over the same period of time and “stacking” them in case one of those trips happens to fall through. That strategy speaks to the hesitation many travelers still feel, so again, rentals with flexible policies figure to remain popular heading into the Fall.
In that article, the Times also reports that travel in the coming months projects similarly to that of the Spring, with domestic travel—and road trips—continuing to dominate the space. However, some experts expect that tide to start turning in the early portions of next year, including Paula Twidale, Sr. Vice President of Travel at AAA. “2019 was a banner year for travel,” she told the Times. “2022 could be an even bigger year than 2019.”