Catch The Rolling Wave of Demand

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Summer months often have us thinking of beach time, but the unprecedented level of pent-up demand wrought by the coronavirus has many of us wanting to getaway, anywhere. Now.

Travel restrictions, entry requirements and vaccination rates continue to change, with demand surging in particular regions. Priceline reports that 92% of Americans will travel in 2021. U.S. airports are indeed filled once again with summer crowds, as TSA Checkpoint throughput is consistently at or above the 2 million travelers mark – about 3x what it was last year, and about 75% of what it was in 2019.

According to CNBC, 56% of Europeans intend to travel this summer. Flight bookings soared in the UK when returning quarantine requirements were eased recently (Okay they’re not part of Europe anymore – but you get the point).

The start-and-stop nature of travel these days has changed typical booking seasons. Many colleagues and partners are reporting that typical seasonality has been eroded by a rolling wave of demand, as more and more travelers are able to move more freely within their own countries and around the world – depending on the region, of course. Asia for example, has seen new restrictions on travel as the more contagious, less-deadly delta coronavirus variant spreads.

tasty wave 📷 by Matt Paul Catalano

In this new, more fluid and dynamic context, travel marketers are wise to adapt to these demand patterns by keeping an eye on the restrictions from both an origin and destination perspective. Just as a wave splits into smaller waves when hitting rocks along the shore, so too will demand continue to flow where restrictions have been eased. Campaigns and messaging needs to be ready for immediate deployment, tailored for how travelers are feeling now.

We’ve helped our partners catch this rolling wave of demand through the merchandising of relevant destinations and experiences that are resonating with travelers now – like vigorous trail hikes or languid nights soaking up the fresh air of a state park. TripTuner was built from start to respond to changing preferences. Our custom versions enable partners to stay in tune with those tastes in real-time – and leverage that data for better personalization.

Wanna make some waves and rise with the tide of growing travel demand? Hit us up! 🏄‍♂️

Distance Lover: Traveler Demand for Open Spaces, Quantified [INFOGRAPHIC]

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At first glance, this infographic may not be surprising.  The general consensus among travel experts these days is that people are opting for less crowded experiences as a result of the pandemic.  But when you start to look for data to back this up, it’s largely based on surveys or anecdotal evidence and quotes. We wanted to see what actual travelers were doing vs. saying

So we dug into the TripTuner Taste Lab. The Taste Lab is comprised of unique preference data pulled from the precise actions of users on preference slider inputs across the TripTuner platform. It’s the output of a patented process, in which the twin attributes of each slider measure the relative preference between two criteria (you can play around with it here).

In this case, we looked at the relative preference for social distancing among U.S. travelers across three categories: destinations (remote vs. urban), beaches (secluded vs. lively) and activities (hidden gems vs. popular). The base timeframe starts with the designation of a pandemic in February 2020 and runs until the first reports of a successful vaccine in November. For a pre-pandemic comparison, we took the same timeframe from 2019.

Where’s the Remote (Destination)?

As expected, Taste Lab data shows travelers prefer less crowded destinations, beaches and activities across the board. But it wasn’t the same for each type of travel experience. For destinations, in 2020 travelers were on average 22% more inclined to choose a remote destination.

This may not seem significant, however if you look at the position of the average slider preferences it shows a flip from a pre-pandemic bias towards urban locations to more remote. Of course, individual tastes will vary (and we can capture that on an individual level) but the overall sentiment shifted significantly. Remote destinations are on average, the new default.

Beach Towel Territory Battles

You know those pesky travelers who claim their territory with a beach towel sometime before you go to sleep and finish breakfast? Those battles are primed to continue, but along a different front. Instead of staking claim to a spot closest to the action, beachgoers are choosing secluded spots by 33% more than they did pre-pandemic. Despite being outdoors, distance still matters for travelers looking for their next beach vacation.

Authentic Activities at-a-Distance

When looking for activities, the general thinking is that most travelers will flock to the “must-see” experiences in a given location (looking at you, Times Square). But post-pandemic, travelers are 24% more likely to select a “hidden gem” (let’s run it back, Oiji). We’ve seen how many trends have been accelerated by COVID-19, so this too may not be surprising given the general shift toward more authentic, local experiences. Still, like the growing taste for remote destinations and secluded beaches, these changes represent a major shift in traveler activity preferences.

Moody Truths

Given the pandemic’s relative lack of booking and historical preference data, it’s imperative for travel marketers to stay closely attuned to how travelers are feeling right now, in the moment. A major shift may only be a headline away. Implementing a way to gather first-party preference data now is the best way to future-proof against the next major disruption to travel – before it becomes cliché like social distancing. To find out how, give us a holler.

Stay tuned. Be well.