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The needs of the COVID-19 traveler

The needs of the COVID-19 traveler - what travelers need now

Key takeaways:

  • - Cleanliness will remain top of mind for travelers with two key dimensions: the traveler’s perspective (recent guest reviews) and the property’s new enhanced cleanliness protocols
  • - Flexibility to cancel without penalty boosts booking confidence 
  • - Access to information on travel restrictions and quarantine measures is key during trip planning
  • - Online ratings and reviews have more authority than ever before

Cleanliness is top of mind

Cleanliness has always been important, but COVID-19 has emphasized its importance. Our recent survey of US travelers shows that more travelers are listing health and safety (72%) and avoiding crowds (68%) as top concerns over budget (60%) during trip planning.

Travelers also find information on property and airline sanitation processes critical to know when considering travel. They want to understand the precautions providers are taking to keep them safe and having access to cleaning protocols has a positive impact on traveler confidence around safety.  

‘I need to know that the place I’m going to is going to be safe and clean.’

Travelers also want a quick way to identify properties that are following guidelines to maintain safety and cleanliness - 51% of travelers say they will pay more attention to the cleanliness standards of their accommodations prior to booking.

Reviews are also perceived as the as the best source for cleanliness information - 43% of survey respondents indicated they will be looking for reviews mentioning cleanliness.

Tapping into the need to ensure travelers safety, we’re providing COVID-related information in the new health and safety property attributes across all EPS products. These attributes highlight the precautions that properties are taking, such as providing hand sanitizer, putting social distancing measures in place or officially certified under a brand’s regulatory agency for sanitization guidelines. To help travelers regain trust and peace of mind we’re also making available cleanliness guest ratings and reviews on properties on our technology solutions.  

Flexibility to cancel without penalty boosts booking confidence

With so much uncertainty impacting vacation plans this year, many travelers are opting for plans that can be easily adjusted, canceled or rescheduled. The ability to change plans without penalty will give them greater flexibility to plan with more confidence.

“Have a ‘Get Out’ policy where I can back out if I feel uncomfortable with the current situation.”

Clear communication and transparency about cancellation policies and consequences of last-minute changes and cancellations are also determinants whether to proceed with a booking.

“It’s all about the cancelation policy. I’m not booking now because I fear the refund policies. I don’t want to lose money.”

Travelers are becoming more cost conscious

Though getting the best value for money has always been a focus, the economic impact of the pandemic has increased cost consciousness. Travelers are interested in cost-effective trips and value-added promotions and discounts are expected to play a key role in traveler behavior. Make sure that you’re surfacing these special offerings and investing in merchandising campaigns to drive incremental conversion or ensure you’re appealing to travelers who are still looking.

“Give some deals, discounts, or bundles to ease the burden with high unemployment”

Access to information on travel restrictions and quarantine measures is key during trip planning

With the quickly shifting travel dynamics travelers consider it ‘absolutely critical’ to be aware of restrictions in place. They want to know about quarantine measures, pandemic levels at the destination and to understand the logistics and potential restrictions during travel to be able to take safety precautions.

Our booking data shows that demand for domestic travel with short trips is increasing across the different markets.

Online ratings and reviews have more authority than ever before

Travelers are increasingly turning to social proof to inform their booking decisions and to find the confidence to travel again. User-generated content, such as ratings and reviews, are hugely influential in trip planning, with research finding that 95% of travelers read online reviews before booking a trip.

In times of uncertainty, peer-to-peer endorsements are guiding travelers' consideration and shopping behavior. In response to this, Expedia Partner Solutions (EPS) has now added millions of user-generated ratings and reviews to the API, EPS Rapid. For the first time, your travelers can access over 58 million reviews and more than 75 million traveler ratings from across Expedia Group, all in one place.

Over 1.7 million reviews have been added since March, helping to convert concerned shoppers into travelers ready to take their trip.