TripAdvisor sees spike in travel searches amid pent-up demand

Activity in the travel and dining sectors look set to pick up as consumers are displaying strong pent-up demand, with growing interest in road trips and destinations closer to home, found a recent TripAdvisor study.

The study, titled Beyond COVID-19: The Road to Recovery for the Travel Industry, analysed consumer travel sentiment and first party behavioural data related to the ongoing pandemic.

There is significant pent-up demand that exists in the marketplace for travel and dining, the study found. New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland are among the first markets to see signs of recovery in the dining sector, with restaurant searches on TripAdvisor resurging strongly.

Consumer desire to travel remains resilient, with around two in five (41 per cent) respondents keen to take the same or more trips than last year.

Shorter trips to destinations closer to home are a recurring theme, with nearly half (44 per cent) of consumers saying they are more likely to take a road trip, and two thirds (61 per cent) saying they are most comfortable taking a road trip for three to five days.

Consumers are 218 per cent more likely to want to take a trip where they can relax compared to before the pandemic, and nearly two thirds (59 per cent) would prefer to go somewhere off the beaten path.

In addition, searches for nature and beach destinations are on the rise, with Tripadvisor seeing a spike in North American traffic researching Campgrounds, Ranches and Beach Motels, while Myrtle Beach, San Diego and Key West are among the most popular domestic destination searches in the US in recent weeks.

The report also outlined a five-stage recovery for the travel and hospitality industry, from the period of decline owing to the pandemic to the anticipated market recovery, led by domestic activity, ahead of the return of international travel.

Kanika Soni, COO, Tripadvisor, said: “Our path to recovery will depend on the steps the industry takes to prepare for the road ahead – not just in terms of new standards and practices, but also in how we collectively educate and engage consumers in a new, more thoughtful way of travelling.”

The study also detailed the changes in travel and dining behaviours resulting from the ongoing pandemic. Across the board, safety, flexibility and transparency are key to rebuilding traveller and diner confidence.

Martin Verdon-Roe, general manager of hospitality solutions, Tripadvisor, added: “For hospitality businesses, (this) report offers plenty of reasons for cautious optimism. There are clear signs that many consumers have a strong desire to dine out and travel again when they are allowed to do so, but when they do, they will bring a new set of expectations with them.

“Businesses that adapt quickly to embrace safety, flexibility and transparency will have a clear competitive advantage to communicate to consumers, and that could prove crucial in hastening their recovery.”