As the summer travel boom winds down, travel brands are gearing up for a busy holiday season. After almost a year of booking declines across hotels and airlines due to pandemic-driven regulations and concerns, this year’s summer months closely resembled pre-pandemic numbers.
Rakuten Advertising recently surveyed just over 1,000 U.S. travelers to learn more about their feelings around holiday travel and the trips they’re planning in the coming months. Overall, the survey found that travelers are making up for lost time, planning to travel more frequently and spend more on trips.
Half of the surveyed consumers are strongly considering booking trips during the holiday months (November – December) which could help further the momentum brands experienced between April and August this year. That number jumps to 57% when considering booking trips for January and rest of 2022.
As travel and hospitality marketers continue building their strategies for Q4, brands should consider what these audiences need to progress through the customer booking journey. Here are some key insights to keep in mind:
Holiday travel will look different this year.
While travelers are strongly considering taking trips in similar numbers to 2019, many are waiting until the last minute to book them. The survey showed nearly a third (31%) of respondents plan to travel more during this holiday season than they did in 2019 and nearly half (47%) plan to travel the same amount for the holidays as they did in 2019. Still, only 18% have booked their travel for November and December. To encourage customers to book confidently, brands can offer cancellation flexibility and promote last-minute deals to alleviate some of the hesitation many consumers are experiencing. The Rakuten Affiliate network can help brands build trust with travelers by amplifying digital marketing performance through our premium/extensive travel-related publishers and data-driven products.
COVID is a top concern for travelers but it’s not stopping them from planning trips.
U.S. consumers are strongly considering holiday travel even with as the continuous development of the Delta Variant. A majority (56%) of travelers will not change their travel plans, regardless of their level of concern around the Delta Variant. Still, COVID-19 related health safety and protocols in a destination were ranked the top factors? when booking a vacation along with vaccination and infection rates of destination. Nearly half of travelers will only travel locally for the holidays this year. By promoting safety protocols and highlighting updated property features, brands can help encourage customers to book local destinations for their holiday trips.
Travelers are hopeful about the future of travel.
Even though travelers only have slight hesitations about holiday travel this year, they are more optimistic about travel in 2022. The survey showed travelers are more likely to book expensive vacations (over $2,000) further out in January 2022 and beyond. Most travelers (33%) plan to spend up to $1,000 on travel during the upcoming holiday season. In 2022 and beyond, 19% of travelers plan to spend $5,000 and 7% will spend up to $10,000. While most people are still daydreaming of these trips, 14% of travelers have booked their travels for 2022 and nearly 60% are strongly considering booking over the next six months. Businesses can benefit from this optimistic outlook on travel by inspiring audiences to select 2022 destinations and book their trips. Travel brands have the opportunity to build top-of-funnel awareness through media properties like Rakuten Viki and Viber to build and strengthen interest and engagement before 2022 travel begins.
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.