Positive Signs ahead as Tripadvisor Site Data Reveals some promising stats

The world’s largest travel platform, Tripadvisor, released the findings of a multi-month study that analysed consumer travel sentiment and first party behavioural data related to the ongoing pandemic. The report points out a five-stage recovery for the global travel and hospitality industry, highlighting early signs of recovery in a number of countries around the world. It also identifies notable changes in travel and dining preferences resulting from the ongoing pandemic. Tripadvisor continues to leverage its research and insights to educate the tourism and hospitality industry and brands on how to appropriately attract more consumers as travel restrictions begin to lift globally. Media buyers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, and tour operators alike can gain functional advice on how to best serve their customers’ needs in each stage of the recovery. Across the board, safety, flexibility and transparency are key to rebuilding traveler and diner confidence.

5 stages to recovery

The Tripadvisor in-house market research and insights teams have outlined five distinct stages of tourism impact and recovery:

  1. Decline – Travel declines sharply as widespread restrictions enforced
  2. Plateau – Sharp decline in bookings levels out, but travellers start dreaming their next trip
  3. Emerge – Easing of travel restrictions begins, early signs of recovery in dining sector
  4. Domestic Travel – Travellers book their first trips away, but stay close to home
  5. International Travel – Border restrictions ease, and international travel begins to rebound

New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland among first markets to enter the Emerge stage of recovery, with restaurant searches on Tripadvisor resurging strongly.

As we advance through the five stages to recovery, the way consumers travel and where they travel will evolve. Below are some tips to help attract travelers:

  1. Focus efforts at a domestic level initially

Data suggests that domestic travel will be the first to increase, with nearly two in three respondents from Tripadvisor’s ongoing survey saying they will travel domestically within the next six months, and one in three saying within the next three months. Based on current trends, destinations should focus travel efforts at a more local level first. Destinations should be employing upper-funnel strategies, specifically in drive markets, to ensure they’re poised to capture pent-up consumer demand.

  1. Promote attractions where consumers can practice social distancing

While popular, urban destinations were previously hot spots for travel, 59% of consumers report they prefer to visit off-the-beaten-path destinations after the pandemic. Consumers are looking to take trips where they can social distance, meaning visits to attractions within destinations will also take time to return to pre-pandemic norms. Destinations may see increases in outdoor attractions, or even cultural sites.

  1. Build confidence in cleanliness

It’s crucial for destination marketers to help build consumer confidence. Cleanliness is the most important factor when travelers are determining when to travel. In fact, 84% of consumers say cleanliness or sanitization certificates are important when booking a travel experience, and 79% say it’s important to publicly display compliance to government safety standards. In partnership with the hospitality industry, destinations can promote this information and ease consumers’ minds.

  1. Help consumers relax again

With increased anxiety, consumers are seeking opportunities for relaxation, and many are turning to travel to provide just that. Consumers report they are 218% more likely to take a trip where they can relax after the pandemic40. Consumers say they are 148% more likely to visit beaches when they can travel again, an attraction where consumers are able to not only relax but practice social distancing.

Emerging consumer preferences

In Europe, nature destinations are on the rise as searches on Tripadvisor for accommodation such as cottages and castles, or hotels featuring skiing, hiking and fishing activities, trend upwards faster than other accommodation types.

Consumers are 218% more likely to want to take a trip where they can relax compared to before the pandemic, and nearly two thirds (59%) would prefer to go somewhere off the beaten path. Shorter trips to destinations closer to home are also a recurring theme, with nearly half (44%) of consumers saying they are more likely to take a road trip, and two thirds (61%) saying they are most comfortable taking a road trip for 3-5 days.

These gains are not without caveats, though. Analysis of consumer sentiment indicates a significant shift in consumer attitudes that are a defining characteristic of the Emerge stage. As confidence returns, it will be initially tempered by concerns about cleanliness and safety.

Less than half (42%) of consumers say they will dine-in at restaurants just as they did prior to the pandemic, but others are more cautious. More than a third of consumers (35%) say they will put an emphasis on dining at restaurants that keep customers safe. Around one in six (16%) will avoid dine-in experiences altogether in favor of delivery or take-out.

Beside this, things are going more domestic and rural, with biggest consumer interest for Farmhouses, Camps, Ranches, Villas, Castles, Lake Hotels etc.

This is not only due to initial changes in consumer attitudes, but also changes in their spending power. Two in five (40%) consumers report their household will be worse off financially in the next 12 months, around the same number (43%) expect their financial position to be about the same as it is now, while only one in six (17%) expect to be better off. These differences mean that changes in travel behavior won’t be universal, even once restrictions are lifted. While nearly two thirds of consumers (59%) are likely to take fewer trips in the next twelve months than in the year previous, around two in five (41%) are optimistic that they will take the same or more trips than last year. Consumer desire to travel remains resilient – around two in five (41%) consumers are optimistic that they will take the same or more trips compared to last year. This can be backed with following search stats:

Accommodation search data:

Restaurant search data:

This is not only due to initial changes in consumer attitudes, but also changes in their spending power. Two in five (40%) consumers report their household will be worse off financially in the next 12 months, around the same number (43%) expect their financial position to be about the same as it is now, while only one in six (17%) expect to be better off. These differences mean that changes in travel behavior won’t be universal, even once restrictions are lifted. While nearly two thirds of consumers (59%) are likely to take fewer trips in the next twelve months than in the year previous, around two in five (41%) are optimistic that they will take the same or more trips than last year. Consumer desire to travel remains resilient – around two in five (41%) consumers are optimistic that they will take the same or more trips compared to last year. This can be backed with following search stats:

“We’re encouraged to see positive signs of recovery and are here to help our partners understand the pathway through this pandemic with clear insights and tangible data. Our path to recovery will depend on the steps the industry takes to prepare for the road ahead – not just in terms of new standards and practices but also in how we collectively educate and engage consumers in a new, more thoughtful way of traveling.”
Kanika Soni
CCO of Tripadvisor Inc.

The full report, entitled “Beyond COVID-19: The Road to Recovery for the Travel Industry,” can be found here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Covid19WhitepaperJune2020.