The Yen for Hidden Gems: A Traveler Trends Triptych [infographics]

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Travel’s recovery is at various stages globally, but the trend towards more authentic, off-the-beaten-path destinations, experiences and activities is universal.  Or is it?

Earlier we shared how travelers are gravitating towards more remote (and particularly outdoors) destinations, activities and beaches.  Much of the news around travel trends and some big travel startup funding reports focus on outdoor experiences. We hear about it on webinars, in posts and conversations from industry colleagues – to the point where it’s an accepted truism.

But I’m a bit of a contrarian, so just for kicks we checked to see if the remote outdoors zeitgeist was truly universal. And it is.  Kinda.

Your Social Distance May Vary

We looked at the demand for urban vs. remote destinations across the TripTuner platform, and compared it to pre-COVID levels. Breaking down the desire for more remote destinations by the top four US metropolitan areas, we can clearly see that not everyone shares the same mojo to roll solo.

The teal dots show COVID-era preferences, with white dots indicating 2019 preferences. Chicagoans had the strongest post-COVID desire to go remote (note the delta between the blue vs white dot above), while Houston’s change was less than half of that – likely because they were already more apt to do so (their white dot). New York and LA also saw significant increases of 28% and 32%, respectively.

Solo Play

We also looked at the demand for popular vs. hidden gem activities across the TripTuner platform, and compared it to pre-COVID levels.  There was a clear overall trend towards less popular activities, but it varied across the four major US metros.

Here’s how it played out:
– LA travelers are now 26% more desirous of hidden gem activities 
– New Yorkers were next at 23%
– Houston came in at 18% and Chicago just 12%

Interestingly, Chicagoans are an outlier here. While they clearly prefer more remote destinations, they are less inclined to go off-the-beaten path when it comes to activities. The other markets are more or less aligned with remote destination and activity preference levels.

Which Way To The (Uncrowded) Beach?

Beach preferences jibed with the crowd-avoidance vibe. The change in pre- vs post-COVID preferences varied as with destinations and activities.

Here again however, Chicagoans stood out in having a much higher preference for secluded beaches than hidden gem activities. Perhaps the novelty of Oak Street Beach has worn off for locals?

Your Audience May Vary

What else does this data tell us? That despite a glut of views on what the “new normal” (sorry not sorry to use that worn phrase, it’s relevant) looks like for travel, we still need to dig into the numbers and see if it makes sense for our audience and what they want.

Ideally, you can do this on an individual 1:1 level (we can help with that) by leveraging your own first-party data (more on its importance here). But as much this pandemic has changed us, it’s more critical as ever to do the math – to question your assumptions and check that they are backed by real, relevant data.

Enough with the numbers. Now let me go dream about my next remote getaway destination.

PS – we can help with that, too 🙂