Crave Magazine

Booking.com Reveals What Travellers Want in 2021

Booking.com brings the industry the insights needed to attract tomorrow’s travellers and power the guest experiences they’re looking for in the new future of travel

Following the release of its annual Travel Predictions research* and delving into its nearly 25 years of travel expertise, Booking.com – one of the world’s largest travel platforms and a digital technology leader – is breaking down actionable insights the travel industry can leverage to deliver better guest experiences in 2021 and beyond, as it continues rebuilding together. 

With 57% of travellers stating that they will choose an accommodation based on more rigorous criteria than previously, Booking.com is working to provide the support and technology needed to ensure that its property partners are ready to meet and exceed traveller expectations by providing transparency, peace of mind and a custom-fit trip, as it becomes possible for travellers to experience the world again.

Transparency Transcends

With travellers demanding even more bang for their buck, transparency on cancellation policies, payment, refunds and flexibility – already on the rise in 2020 – will become even more important. A significant nearly three quarters (73%) of travellers believe booking platforms need to increase their transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes, trip insurances and more. Booking.com has long sought to clearly highlight options for free or flexible cancellation policies at properties that have opted to make these options available, which has become all the more important as recovery begins. Going beyond just online travel platforms, 74% of travellers think airlines will have to offer more flexible tickets. 

With nearly half (49%) of travellers now considering the ability to cancel without charge, and 37% the flexibility to change dates, to be must haves for their future stays, accommodation providers can take action to meet consumer demands quickly. Booking.com is ensuring partners are set up for success when it comes to pricing, availability and flexibility, by introducing a tool which allows partners to implement flexible policies in just a few clicks to capture new bookings as well as providing Recovery and Pricing Toolkits to bring all key information and resources into an easy-to-navigate format. 

Peace of Mind is Top of Mind

Over half (50%) of travellers are looking for a relaxing trip in 2021, while use of endorsements for relaxation on Booking.com have increased 33% since the start of the pandemic**, but what does it take to get them to fully kick their feet up? It will come as a surprise to very few that health and hygiene tops the list of traveler concerns, with 79% stating they will take more precautions when traveling in the future. Booking.com has even seen the use of the words “clean” and “hygiene” have both increase by over 60% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic***. However, the importance of clear safety measures to deliver peace of mind to travellers cannot be understated. 

Earlier this year, Booking.com made key product updates to make it simple for properties to display precautionary COVID-19 measures to travellers seeking this enhanced transparency while providing online resources to help partners navigate health and safety regulations and traveller preferences. With over 14 million listings on the Booking.com platform having now implemented health and safety measures, many property partners are ready to welcome the 68% of travellers that said they were more likely to book a particular accommodation if it’s clear what health and hygiene policies it has in place. While this may encompass simple but impactful measures like providing antibacterial or sanitizing products for use during a stay, with 76% of travellers stating they would be likely to book an accommodation if offered such products, we’re also seeing travellers open up to adopting automated interactions, such as online check-in, which 57% of travellers were willing to try, rather than interact with a person.

No One-Size-Fits-All

While transparency and peace of mind are two pillars of traveller demand that will remain top priorities across the board, traveller preferences are still intimately personal and there will be no one-size-fits-all approach to travel in the future. Just take travellers’ choice for accommodation type, for example: Booking.com survey data discovered that while 35% of travellers stated they were likely to avoid staying in a hotel; quite similarly, 30% of travellers stated they would avoid staying in a vacation home or apartment. While the pandemic accelerated the trend towards travellers choosing alternative accommodations – accounting for 40% of all new bookings in the second quarter – a trend we believe will continue into 2021, there are still travellers who will choose traditional hotels, and opportunities to deliver amazing guest experiences exist for the entire industry.

With personal preference reigning supreme more than ever before, Booking.com is innovating to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for – wherever and whatever that may be – with an updated search experience. This includes filters for customers looking for private, whole home accommodations and properties that have implemented health and safety measures, as well as introduced search options for trip themes, such as beach or hiking, and nearby destinations, surfacing tailored options and hidden gems to travellers while driving additional visibility for property partners to ensure they can attract travellers looking for their offering.

What’s Next

“We know travel is fundamental to people’s lives and that we will travel again despite this challenging time. Our survey data encouragingly found that 67% of travellers stated they will be more cautious when travelling, but they won’t be stopped from taking a trip,” said Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Booking.com. “At Booking.com, we’re doing everything we can to support property partners by relentlessly working to ensure our partners have the tools, technology and support they need to attract business and provide the best in hospitality to help fill their rooms, as it becomes possible for travellers to experience the world again.”

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