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Travel: Rural trips continue to predominate in 2021, but urban escapes are rebounding

09 August 2021 (Edited 09 August 2021)

81% of travelers surveyed across 8 major markets are considering a trip to a small town or rural area in the next 18 months, but searches for city breaks are up 40%-90%

Expedia Group has released its Traveler Value Index report on what travelers value in 2021, based on survey data collected in May 2021 from 8,000 respondents in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US.

Key findings:

  • 81% of respondents said they are considering a trip to a small town or remote area in the next 18 months - a trend that's causing vacation rentals in drivable destinations to surge.
  • However, city getaways are bouncing back, as evidenced by double-digit growth in searches:
    • Las Vegas +40%
    • Melbourne +90%
    • Paris +30%
    • Sydney +85%
  • 72% said they plan to take a trip in the next 12 months.
  • 36% said they'd opt for having more vacation days vs. getting a pay raise.
  • 18% said they expect travel to be their #1 household expense item in 2021.
  • 71% worldwide (81% in UK) are comfortable with the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine passport.
  • Top benefits of travel:
    1. New experiences (56%)
    2. Physical and mental wellness (48%)
    3. Learning about other cultures and communities (51%)
    4. Becoming a more well-rounded person (33%)
  • 75% are likely to select a destination which they've never visited before.
  • 67% plan to travel by car, 50% (62% for Australians) by air.
  • 44% of new US cruise bookings are for 2021 sailings.
  • 48% are booking travel through sites and companies they've never used before, because they believe that entity to be trustworthy.
  • For their first trip, 32% said visiting family and friends is more important than getting a good deal.
  • 59% (76% in Mexico) are willing to spend more for a more sustainable trip.
  • 65% (71% in Germany) are more likely to book with travel companies that say their practices are inclusive.
  • 60% will opt for a domestic trip in the short term vs. 27% international.
  • 41% want to take frequent, shorter trips vs. 28% who want to take fewer but longer trips.

Attributes of a trip that travelers say they value most:

  1. Ability to get full refund
    • Hotels (mentioned by 24%)
    • Vacation rentals (26%)
    • Air travel (26%)
    • Car rentals (23%)
    • Cruise (24%)
  2. Low price
  3. Contactless experience
  4. Environmentally friendly policies
  5. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection (mentioned by more women then men, especially in Mexico)
  6. Flexible booking change policies
  7. First-class benefits and upgrades

Specific preferences re Vacation Rentals:

Valued most (top 3):

  1. Ability to get full refund
  2. Enhanced cleaning
  3. Very low price due to current conditions

Except that: North American travelers with 3+ children most value flexible booking policies.

Specific preferences re air travel:

Valued most (top 3):

  1. Ability to get full refund (especially in UK and Germany)
  2. Enhanced cleaning
  3. Very low price due to current conditions

Except that:

  • Millennials and Gen Z rank low price ahead of cleaning/disinfection.
  • Gen Z in US and Canada value contactless experience

Specific preferences re car rental

Valued most (top 3):

  1. Ability to get full refund
  2. Enhanced cleaning
  3. Very low price due to current conditions

Except that Millennials in US and Canada rank flexible booking #2.

Specific preferences re cruises

Valued most (top 3):

  1. Ability to get full refund
  2. Enhanced cleaning
  3. Very low price due to current conditions

Except that:

  • Respondents in France and Mexico rank low price #1.
  • Gen Z travelers in North America rank environmentally friendly policies #2


For destinations and local businesses - which have to live with their existing location - attributes over which you have control and which travelers say they value are:

  • Cancellation policy
  • Price
  • Cleanliness and disinfection
  • Environmental friendliness, sustainability
  • Inclusion
  • New experiences
  • Exposure to culture and community

Adjust your business practices and marketing accordingly.

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David Boggs    - David
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External Article: https://welcome.expediagroup.com/content/dam/marketing/welcome2eg/published-assets/whitepapers/traveler-value-index-report/EN_Traveler_Value_Index_2021.pdf

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