Global vaccine rollouts spur the return of travel

  • CDC news made 43% of Americans feel more comfortable traveling
  • Start of 2021 saw travel turn a corner with monthly search volumes showing strong growth
  • Many travelers continue to prioritize domestic over international travel and are taking trips closer to home

The Q1 2021 Travel Recovery Trend Report was released today. The quarterly trend report features data from custom research and Expedia Group first-party data combined with actionable insights to help ensure travel brands are best prepared to reconnect and reengage with travelers as spring and summer travel ramps up.

Traveler behaviors and preferences have evolved significantly over the past year, meaning travel brands can no longer rely on historical marketing strategies to inform their recovery plans. Industry experts know people are eager to start traveling again, but how they engage with travel brands, and what they expect, has changed. This report spotlights the latest data and trends to help travel brands develop strategies, messaging and content that aligns with what travelers want – and need – to book their next trip.

Key findings from the Q1 2021 Travel Recovery Trend Report include:

Global Vaccine Rollouts Spur the Return of Travel 

After a turbulent year for the travel industry in 2020, the start of 2021 saw travel turn a corner with monthly search volumes showing strong growth throughout Q1. The increase in searches and traveler demand is linked with growing momentum for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and travel guidelines.

With one of the world’s leading vaccine rollouts, search trends in the U.S. illustrate the correlation between major vaccine announcements and week-on-week search growth. In week-over-week searches, the week of March 15 saw the largest spike in searches – an increase of 30% – following the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) release of guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. The CDC news made 43% of Americans feel more comfortable traveling — or drove them to book an upcoming trip.

Global Search Window Remains Short

Continuing a trend seen throughout much of last year, the majority of global Q1 2021 searches fell within the 0 to 21 days search window, as uncertainty around global travel saw travelers opt for more opportunistic, short-term trips, often close to home. While this trend seems to be strengthening for domestic trips, longer search windows for international trips are beginning to emerge.

This trend is particularly pronounced in the EMEA region, where searches 91 days out or longer represented almost 40% of international searches made in Q1 2021, up from around 25% in Q4 2020. This is good news for ‘bucket-list’ or once-in-a-lifetime type destinations or attractions looking to attract long-haul travelers.