Vasiliki Mavrokefalou Director Market Management Lodging Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria & East Adriatic, Expedia Group


The 2020 coronavirus pandemic brought the travel industry to a standstill. The silence of a world without travel was deafening but has also created clarity about the importance of travel. The crisis has changed the travel industry and rebuilding it again will mean accepting that the changes will lay a new path. By coming together, we can rebuild a travel industry that is more resilient, frictionless, sustainable, and accessible.

There is no clear answer on when we return to normalcy, and what the new normal will look like, but travel is a resilient industry and we emphatically believe that it will return to normal levels. We need to listen and watch, to understand traveler behavior and motivations during this time, so we are best prepared to re-engage with them when the time is right to travel.

The research reveals that one in two travelers feel optimistic – that is, comfortable or even excited – about taking a trip in the next 12 months – while the other half need more reassurance. Though consumer confidence in travel varies by country and generation, the importance of hygiene measures, flexibility, and financial peace of mind is more universal. Three-quarters of travelers said measures such as mask enforcement, contactless services, and flexibility, including easy refunds or cancellation policies, will inform where they visit on their next trip.Traveler trends in the next 12 months

  • Globally travelers are more likely to take a trip between April and September 2021.
  • Fifty percent of travelers said they would be comfortable traveling if a vaccine is widely available, which is promising given that this sentiment was captured in October, prior to recent positive vaccine news.
  • Trip and booking flexibility will continue to be top of mind for travelers. It is no longer nice to have, it’s required. Seven in 10 travelers will look for flexibility, such as travel insurance and trip protection, full cancellations and refunds on transportation and accommodations.’ s lodging data shows that travelers booked refundable rates 10 percent more often in 2020 than the year before, and the new research indicates this trend is likely here to stay.

 Factors influencing transportation and accommodation decisions

  • Travelers want reassurances that travel providers and brands are following and enforcing pandemic protocols. Mask use and enforcement (50%), cost (47%) and easy refunds or cancellation policies (45%) will be the leading factors in future transportation decisions, though the importance placed on each varies by mode of transportation.
  • For future air travel, six in 10 travelers would be most comfortable traveling if social distancing measures are in place.
  • Proper COVID-19 hygiene protocols will inform future accommodation decisions for more than half of travelers, and this is the leading factor across all types, from chain and boutique hotels to vacation rentals to staying with family or friends. Additional considerations included contactless room service and takeout (24%) and contactless check in options (23%).

Travel providers, as well as destination organizations, need to clearly communicate health and hygiene measures, pandemic protocols and flexibility to reassure and attract travelers

Inspiring future travel

  • Travelers are turning to online travel agencies for information and travel planning 24 percent more than pre-pandemic, while destination websites saw a 20 percent increase in use as a planning tool.
  • Pictures and informative messaging in travel advertising are 20 percent more influential than pre-pandemic, along with travel organizations and experts. This is reflective of the shift in traveler priorities – with hygiene measures and flexibility overtaking experiences and activities – and the increased importance of credible, up-to-date information from trusted sources.

Technology to reduce friction

The research shows that people will book travel if they are confident in their ability to change plans and stay safe. Expedia Group is investing in technology that provides travelers and lodging partners with more choice in how they seek support, while helping complete tasks faster and make informed decisions.

  • Virtual agent enhancement: Expedia Group added new skills to its AI-powered virtual agent that helps resolve the most common enquiries including cancelling or changing trips, receiving refunds, redeeming vouchers, and answering questions about safety measures. A recently added feauture, one-click cancellation, allows travelers to initiate cancellations for each part of their trip. One-click cancellation works seamlessly for booking across Expedia Group’s brands and adheres to cancellation policiies of the travel partner.
  • Informing travel decisions: Expedia Group brands including recently launched the COVID-19 Travel Advisor, an interactive tool powered by Sherpa, that helps travelers find up-to-date information about travel restrictions in the destination they plan ot visit, such as quarantine, face mask and COVID-19 test restrictions in the destination they plan to visit, such as quarantine, face mask and COVID-19 test requirements. Travelers can enter details such as their origin and destination, departure date and the country that issued their passport to learn more before their trip.


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