5 ways travel and hospitality are already transforming in a post-pandemic world.

With the development of the vaccine around the world, travel could once again be possible, even this year! A new report from Airbnb is showing some meaningful changes in the travel industry for 2021 in the US. Here are some trends AirBnB is expecting this year.

According to AirBnB, “Travel will be viewed as an antidote to isolation and disconnection”. The report is based on a year of data spanning mid-2019 to late 2020 as well as a public poll conducted in December 2020. Travel is one of the activities Americans have missed the most, with 54% planning to travel in 2021.

Let’s see how their trips will look in the near future:

1- Less social media, more real social connections: “spending time with friends and family is the type of travel Americans miss the most.” 51% of the respondents say the first people they will visit is immediate family, and 32% say they would want to stay close to family in future trips. More than a third, or 37%, state their definition of “meaningful” travel has changed to focus more on time with loved ones and less with social media sharing.

2- Business + Pleasure= Bleisure? The combination of business and pleasure trips is more common than what people think. Business travelers often choose to stay a little longer on their business trips and enjoy the area as a tourist. As one of the biggest possible travel trends in 2021, travelers will need better tools to ensure their flight and hotel at their destination.

3- Shorter distances: For 2021 travel, a majority (56%) prefer domestic or local destinations, 21% prefer international destinations. Interest in car travel is higher than ever and it’s actually surpassing interest in air travel by double digits. That’s an interesting change from 2019, when travel distances over 3,000 miles were a very popular segment. Therefore, the transportation industry might see a significant shift from 2019–2020 with shorter trips in terms of distances.

4- Busy cities are so 2019: in 2019, the Airbnb’s top 10 destination cities were busy metropolitan cities like Barcelona, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, New York, Paris, or Rome. But already by the end of 2020, quieter, low-key destinations saw the largest year-over-year growth, including according to AirBnB, “Rodanthe, North Carolina (a coastal village in the Outer Banks); Forks, Washington (the main setting for the Twilight book series); and the Muskoka Lakes, a few hours’ drive from Toronto”.

In order to go to these locations, travelers need sometimes to use smaller airports too, adding risks of delayed flights to their vacation.

5- Lack of seasonality: Prior to the Covid pandemic, it was easy to predict when those holiday bookings would pick up or slow down. But now that people are largely working from home (and kids are learning from home too), that typical seasonality isn’t really valid anymore.

“Now that remote work and learning are giving many people more freedom to choose when they travel, a significant percentage of Americans are more open to traveling during off-peak times of year and days of the week,” Airbnb’s report says. According to the survey, 25% of travelers are opting for off-peak seasons or days of the week this year. Will airline companies be able to ensure on-time flights for those off-peak reservations?

From your holiday theme parks to airports, hotels, and beyond, traveling will change as the world reopens. Precisely what those changes might be remains to be seen, but the report from AirBnB gives us some inputs about those changes and how the transportation, the hospitality and travel industries will have to work in a different way to accommodate their clients.

Stay well. Be safe.