When will the travel and hospitality industry get back to pre-pandemic levels? When it comes to leisure travel, the answer is sooner than you might’ve ever thought possible.
In summer 2021, vacationers got their beach on, with tourist hotspots like Miami and Virginia Beach topping their 2019 occupancy rates. The Transportation Security Administration logged more than 2.1 million people at airport checkpoints on July 2, 2021, topping 2019 volume. Business travel and cruise lines still have some catching up to do, but the signs are optimistic, with Carnival Cruise Line’s bookings for the second half of 2022 outpacing 2019 levels.
Yet here’s a catch: travelers today are booking their trips sooner. That means getting ahead of the competition is more important than ever before. These travel and hospitality search trends from 2021 will help you better understand the reasons why some domains drive more online traffic than others. It will also help you identify future travel trends faster.
Which domain attracts the most search engine traffic for flights?
The domains winning the online conversation about hospitality trends and travel share a common bond: They invest in well-optimized content. For example, when it comes to flights, monthly search volume (MSV) data from August 2021 shows that two Online Travel Agencies—Kayak and Expedia—are winning the highest portion of market share, earning 17.93% and 16.67% respectively. American Airlines is the only branded carrier to make the top five.
Kayak is outpacing even Google in terms of market share! One reason why is because they create specific content for travelers’ most sought-after destinations centered around the words “cheap flights.” These route-specific landing pages drive tens of thousands of clicks.
Which names top the list in branded hotel and vacation rental searches?
From established hotel brands like Hilton and Marriott to vacation rental platforms like VRBO and Airbnb, today’s travelers have plenty of options when it comes to accommodations. While searches for all accommodation types (hotels, motels, resorts, and camping) hit their ebb in April 2020 at the height of pandemic lockdowns, searches for both branded and non-branded accommodations have increased across the board ever since.
Searches for “hilton garden inn” and “marriott courtyard” are up more than 500% from August 2019 to August 2021, even though searches for “marriott” alone are down 18%. Interestingly, searches for Airbnb are equal to where they were pre-pandemic. While the brand took a hit for their rigid cancellation policies early on in the pandemic, they’re expected to report their strongest quarterly revenue level in Q3 2021 even though bookings remain below 2019 levels.
The pandemic also created greater interest in private, outdoor, socially distant trips, as evidenced by a sharp rise in camping-related searches since April 2020. The search data dovetails with travel trends. According to a Kampgrounds of America report, the proportion of first-time campers has grown fivefold vs. 2019.
Which factors drive hotel choice for travelers?
Pet-friendly policies, in-room jacuzzis, pools, and extended stay options top the list of amenities people want when it comes to trends and travel in 2021. Proximity also drives lodging choice, with vacationers seeking hotels close to popular theme parks and casinos.
Are more people working while traveling in 2021?
More than likely, the answer is yes. One of the most common searches for guests who reach their destination is how to connect the Wi-Fi so they can use their streaming device or gaming system. Yet others want to know if they can work while on the road. Search demand for “traveling while working remotely” has increased by a whopping 191% since the summer of 2019.
What do ‘things to do’ searches say about trends and travel?
A look at “things to do” searches reveal some potential new travel trends in 2021. On one level, they reveal search intent for finding attractions, entertainment, and dining options while vacationing. But on another level, they could reveal places where people are moving full-time, including beach-friendly and warm-weather areas like Honolulu, Orlando, San Jose, and Fort Lauderdale.
Does the 2021 travel market report show more interest in short-haul or long-haul flights?
For domestic travelers, short-haul flights won the day in 2021. Locations with the largest increase in search interest since July 2021 in the U.S. include plenty of warmer, sunnier spots: Anaheim (home to Disneyland, which reopened on April 30 for the first time in 14 months), Raleigh, N.C., Scottsdale, Ariz., Honolulu and Bakersfield, Calif.
Which international destinations top U.S. travelers’ interests in 2021?
For much of the spring and summer 2021, U.S. travelers mostly planned international flights to nearby resort destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. They shied away from European vacations, likely due to pandemic-era travel restrictions.
Over the past month, we’ve seen a fascinating new travel trend. Destinations like Toronto and Vancouver are among those with the highest percent change in search volume, likely due to Canada reopening its border to fully vaccinated Americans in August 2021. It will be interesting to see how the lifting of other pandemic-era travel restrictions will impact future travel trends.
When will business travel catch up to leisure travel?
While leisure travel carried the travel and hospitality industry on its back in 2021, many people wonder what the travel market report will be for business travel in 2022 and beyond. According to Global Business Travel Association surveys, about 65% of U.S. companies were conducting domestic business travel at midyear 2021. While many others hoped to follow suit later in 2021, concerns about the delta variant led some companies to rethink those plans.
When companies resume business travel, they’ll be taking a closer look at the bottom line. That’s evident by an increase in search demand for travel business management tools, which hit an estimated MSV of 4,400, ahead of searches for U.S. travel restrictions and travel industry trends. Searches also show companies’ growing interest in travel insurance and business trip expenses, particularly costs related to car rentals.
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