Tourism Research Round-Up…Four New Studies Making an Impact

March 05, 2021

There is never a shortage of new research on the latest trends in the travel and tourism industry, but the start of a new year coupled with a global pandemic and an increased focus on social and economic issues has resulted in more opportunities than ever to gain insights on the future of travel. Here are four recent research studies that have caught DCI’s attention.

1. Tourism Outlook: Optimism on Travel’s Recovery

Expedia Group released a current overview of traveler perceptions in its 2020-2021 Traveler Sentiment & Influences study, and overall, the results were positive.

With increased pent-up demand, people are dreaming of travel more than ever. Cancellation rates are declining, although the lead time before booking continues to be short. Travelers are booking within 21 days of trip departure, with their eyes on safe destinations where they can recharge. Strong messaging on health and safety protocols will be key in building traveler trust, as the window between planning and booking has shortened during the buying journey. Younger generations have the most optimistic outlook on travel in the next 12 months.

2. A Longer-Term Perspective: Skift Identifies the Top Tourism Trends through 2025

Skift released its Skift Mega Trends: Looking Ahead to 2025 report which takes a longer-term view of travel behaviors and trends. As recovery occurs, leisure travel will surpass 2019 levels by 2025, with health and safety measures remaining important overall. While domestic trips continue to be preferred in the short-term, overseas, international travel will make a comeback and city destinations will once again flourish in time. A few of the top trends that were captured in the report include:

  1. Traveling with a Purpose: Travelers will be more conscientious of choosing their destinations, as sustainability, reducing their impact, and embedding into the local culture will become more important.
  2. Innovation & Adaptability: Innovation typically follows crises, as companies seek to stand out from the competition and adapt to rapidly changing markets. A commitment to continued contactless services, a rise in subscription models among suppliers, and membership perks and sustainability incentives are all trends to watch.
  3. Convergence: Travel companies’ priority will be to increase the number of transactions per customer to reduce losses in revenue as a result of the pandemic. As a result, they will add product portfolios or look to strategic partnerships and acquisitions to diversify and upsell to their customers.
  4. Redefined Work Trips: By 2025, everyone will be a business traveler. As people continue to work remotely, they will be expected to attend company-wide events to boost employee morale and wellbeing. This new high volume of company events and retreats will help rebound corporate travel to 2019 levels.

3. Inclusivity

Destinations are increasingly aware of their responsibility to listen to, consistently represent, and positively impact travelers of color and two new reports are helping to inform these marketing strategies. According to The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report, BIPOC travelers in the U.S. spent $63 billion on travel in 2019, and represent 13% of the overall leisure travel market. Yet they are consistently under-valued in the travel industry.

BIPOC travelers also stated they are 70% more inclined to choose destinations that are representative of BIPOC travelers, selecting destinations for adventure travel, soulful experiences and safety.

The BIPOC Diversity in Travel Consensus Report provides recommendations on how to address these disparities and opportunities and emphasizes that travel brands need to cater to and recognize the behaviors and preferences of micro-segments to be truly authentic. For instance, an American Black woman may have a different interpretation of safety and acceptance than other groups of travelers. Having a truly authentic brand implies having a welcoming and inclusive personality for all groups of people, including, but not limited to, gender, age, race and LGQBT status.

4. The Economic Power of Tourism

Lastly, as destinations globally have worked to support their local travel and tourism industry while also keeping area residents safe, understanding local perceptions and sentiment towards tourism has never been more important. Longwoods International’s 2020 National Resident Sentiment Report, the largest American resident sentiment study, discovered that approximately 56% of respondents support tourism growth and encourage it in their communities. Moreover, more than 70% of Americans agree that tourism is both important to encourage investment in their local economy.

While Americans overwhelmingly support tourism, there is room to improve their inclusion in the planning process. When residents are informed about travel and tourism, overall growth of the industry increases significantly. Engaging with residents regularly and treating them as brand ambassadors, who advocate for the travel industry’s value in the community will be key.

Staying informed on the latest traveler trends and behaviors is critical in this rapidly changing environment. Relying on reputable and methodologically sound research studies is one way to make sense of this highly unusual time for the travel and tourism industry.

Interested in learning how DCI’s custom research can advance your marketing objectives? Then contact [email protected], DCI’s Vice President of Research & Insights.