Expedia: Search volumes continue upward trajectory

Building on the momentum seen in Q1, monthly global search volumes continued to grow in Q2, increasing more than 70% quarter-over-quarter, according to Expedia Group Media Solutions’ Q2 2021 Travel Recovery Trend Report.

“Throughout Q2, we continued to see strong global search growth, rising international searches and lengthening search windows, among other key milestones,” said Wendy Olson Killion, SVP, Media Solutions. “Our optimism for the near-term travel rebound remains strong, and the latest Travel Recovery Trend Report will provide travel brands with insight into shifting traveler behaviors and attitudes around the world, while also highlighting industry accomplishments and progress to-date.”

Key findings from the report:

Searches globally are growing
The ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and changes to travel restrictions around the world drove searches, contributing to steady week-on-week volume. In Q2, positive global search volume was seen during 11 of the 13 weeks in the quarter—a sharp contrast to the fluctuations seen throughout Q1 and 2020.

The sustained quarter-over-quarter global search volumes also align with a more optimistic consumer attitude for post-pandemic travel. According to Expedia Group’s Traveler Value Index Research, which surveyed respondents in eight countries around the world, 72% of consumers are planning on traveling over the next 12 months.

Search windows lengthening globally
As travelers continued to opt for trips closer to home in Q2, half of global searches again fell within the 0-21 days search window. However, the global search window is lengthening, indicating that traveler confidence is rising, and they are taking advantage of summer travel and starting to plan trips further out. Global searches 22-90 days out accounted for more than 35% of searches in Q2, up nearly 25% quarter-over-quarter.

A total of 55% of global domestic searches fell within the 0-21 days search window, while searches 22-90 days out increased by nearly 20% quarter-over-quarter. Global international searches for the 31-90 days out search window increased 30% from Q1. In the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA), searches 22-90 days out represented more than 40% of international searches in Q2, up from 15% in Q1.

Positive signs for international travel
Although travel shoppers continue to show preference for domestic travel, global international searches in Q2 show signs of a rebound. During multiple weeks in Q2, global international search growth outpaced domestic, likely in part due to broadening global vaccine distribution, growing green lists and easing international travel restrictions in parts of the world.

The positive impact of vaccination progress is visible in Q2 international search data. When compared to search volumes during Q2 2020, EMEA, Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Latin America (LATAM) all saw increased search volumes from America in Q2 2021, showing that travel to destinations within these regions represent an attractive opportunity for vaccinated Americans.

Big cities in the spotlight
During Q2, beach and city destinations made up the top 10 booked destinations around the world, though more cities are entering the top 10 or moving up in ranking in each region, including Chicago and Atlanta in North America (NORAM); Seoul and Jeju City (APAC); Copenhagen and Paris (EMEA); and Houston and Mexico City (LATAM). New York made the list of top 10 booked destinations globally, and within all regions, except APAC.

Regionally, the top 10 booked destinations were primarily for destinations within the same region, following Q1 trends. However, LATAM travelers booked more international trips in Q2 compared to the predominantly regional bookings seen in Q1. New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Orlando appeared on the LATAM top 10 list in Q2, while Houston and San Antonio again made the list.

The growing popularity of city destinations dovetailed with rising hotel demand during Q2. Global hotel demand increased more than 10% quarter-over-quarter, while global hotel length-of-stay remained consistent with the average trip duration seen in Q1.

Renewed interest in sustainable travel
Travelers are increasingly interested in sustainable travel practices, whether that’s reducing their carbon footprint or easing the burden of over-tourism in a travel hotspot. Recent research from Expedia Group and Wakefield shows that nearly three in five travelers are willing to pay additional fees so their trip can be more sustainable, indicating that they consider environmental and social consciousness to be worthwhile.

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