Tripadvisor: Global Travel Top of Mind for Consumers in 2021

NEEDHAM, MA—Tripadvisor has released the findings of a new research report based on the platform’s insight into shifting traveler trends, revealing how consumers are planning to travel in 2021 and what impact the ongoing pandemic has had on their trip planning habits.

The report, which analyzed first-party search data, as well as traveler sentiment across six major markets (the U.S., U.K., Australia, Italy, Japan and Singapore), identified consumers’ increasing confidence that they will travel abroad in 2021, particularly in the second half of the year. In fact, globally, the majority of hotel clicks on Tripadvisor are already shifting to international destinations for May 2021 trips onwards (as opposed to domestic destinations, which dominated 2020).

“Despite the fact that many countries around the world are still grappling with high infection rates of COVID-19, many travelers are feeling optimistic that they will be able to vacation abroad this year, particularly coinciding with the roll-out of a vaccine,” said Shibani Walia, senior research analyst, Tripadvisor. “Consumer appetite for travel is as strong as it has been since the start of the pandemic and, as our data shows, many people are already actively planning their next big trip—even for trips more than four months out…For destinations, brands and tourism operators, it is so important that they act now to attract this early booking demand or else they risk missing out to the competition.”

In the report, entitled “The Year of the Travel Rebound: 5 Traveler Trends to Watch Out for in 2021,” the five trends highlighted are:

1. Travelers are planning to travel abroad in the second half of the year, but won’t wait to make plans

  • Nearly half (47%) of travelers surveyed globally say they are planning to travel internationally in 2021, including 45% of U.S. travelers.
  • One in 10 (11%) global respondents have already booked an international trip for 2021, including 14% of respondents in the U.S.
  • The most eager to venture abroad are German and U.K. travelers—in the first week of January, 85% of hotel clickers on Tripadvisor in either country were planning international breaks for later this year.

2. Vaccinations will be a game-changer for traveler confidence

  • The widespread roll-out of vaccines won’t just impact travelers’ confidence to travel, it will have a major influence on where leisure travelers are prepared to go, too.
  • Globally, more than three quarters (77%) of travelers surveyed say they will be more likely to travel internationally if they receive the vaccine, rising to 86% for travel domestically. In the U.S., those numbers change to 69% and 80% respectively.
  • More than a quarter (26%) of respondents globally say that they would only travel to destinations that required visitors to be vaccinated before travel, with Australian (32%) and U.S. (30%) travelers the most likely to expect destinations to adopt this safety measure.

3. Domestic vacations remain high on travelers’ wish list for 2021

  • While international tourism looks to be getting a boost this year following a shutdown for much of 2020, domestic travel isn’t necessarily going to take a back seat in 2021. In the first week of January, nearly 70% of hotel clickers on Tripadvisor were booking future domestic trips, while further out, May through August are still proving the most popular months for domestic vacations.
  • Globally, three quarters (74%) of travelers surveyed plan to take at least one overnight domestic leisure trip in 2021—and an enthusiastic 80% in the U.S. In the U.S, just more than a third of respondents (34%) are planning at least three domestic trips this year, compared to 31% of Australians surveyed and 24% of British travelers.

4. The joy of vacation planning will be stronger than ever as travelers spend more time researching 2021 trips

  • With travel plans dashed in early 2020, many people have been dreaming about their next big vacation for more than 10 months, so it’s no surprise that travelers are extra conscious of getting it just right.
  • Three quarters (74%) of travelers surveyed globally say they will spend more time choosing a destination this year, including 65% of travelers in the U.S. 64% of travelers in the U.S. will spend more time reading reviews, 63% will spend more time selecting their accommodation and 70% will spend more time finding things to do.

5. Consumers can’t wait to dine out again, but their taste for takeout will still endure

  • As in-person dining was restricted in many countries throughout 2020, the success of takeout and delivery services soared, as consumers sought to satisfy their appetite. But encouragingly for the hospitality industry, in-person dining’s rebound in 2021 doesn’t mean a decline in takeout and delivery demand.
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents globally say they plan to dine in-person at restaurants more often in 2021 than they did in 2020 and a quarter of respondents (27%) say they plan to order more takeout meals this year. In the U.S., 54% of respondents plan to dine in-person at restaurants more often this year and 38% plan to order more takeout.

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