How to Increase Brand Loyalty with Travelers in 2021

As travel demand reaches fever-pitch, consumer needs and behaviors have evolved since pre-pandemic days. While the travel industry continues to closely monitor the impact of the Delta Variant on bookings, recent research shows 58% of US adults said they feel comfortable taking a vacation this year in Q3 2021. 

Our Rakuten Intelligence data confirms this sentiment as travel bookings boomed this summer across airlines, lodging, and car rentals resembling similar numbers to January 2020. In the last four months, airline and hotel bookings have doubled while car rental bookings increased by 21% in July. 

Americans are no longer waiting to travel but their expectations from hospitality brands have changed since pre-pandemic times. The number one factor when booking travel is still brand trust and confidence in safety.  

As you continue to adapt your marketing strategies to meet your audience’s changing travel needs, here are some insights to keep in mind: 

Safety is still a top priority for travelers

Travelers are seeking out options that allow them to travel and gather with safety in mind. Vacation rentals accounted for an estimated 48% of total lodging booking value to date in 2021. Home shares allow groups to spread out safely and spend more time outdoors. To compete with these offerings, hotels need to promote safety protocols, highlight relevant property features and develop brand confidence as part of their marketing strategies.

Travel booking windows are tightening

Flexibility can help drive booking confidence. Travel brands are offering more flexible booking options, waived fees on last-minute cancellations, and even jumping on the ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ trend currently used by 20% of consumers. The additional flexibility not only builds brand loyalty but creates opportunities to highlight “last minute” deals and escapes, allowing travel brands to capitalize on this new booking behavior.

Travelers are spending more on travel now than pre-pandemic

While home shares seem to be the more expensive accommodation ($226 per night compared to $126 at a hotel) travelers are willing to spend more and stay longer. Our data shows consumers are willing to stay twice as long in a vacation rental compared to a hotel, 4.2 nights compared to 2.1 nights in a hotel. Given the higher rates and lengths of stay, the average traveler is spending $476 more per trip this year than they did in 2019. Since home shares are limited in availability, hotels have the advantage of promoting lower rates and amenities that rentals may lack.   

Download our 2021 travel report ‘Inside the Minds and Moments of Today’s Traveler’ to understand the changing needs and behaviors of today’s travelers.

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