Expedia’s optimism for a near-term travel rebound remains strong as 2Q 2021 data shows travel searches are growing and search windows are lengthening

Expedia Group Media Solutions has revealed in its latest quarterly Travel Recovery Trend Report that the second quarter of 2021 has seen strong global search growth, rising international searches and lengthening search windows, among other key industry milestones.

The Q2 2021 report combines Expedia Group first-party data and custom research with actionable insights to help travel marketers on their road to recovery. “Our optimism for the near-term travel rebound remains strong,” says Wendy Olson Killion, senior vice president, media solutions at Expedia Group.

Building on the momentum seen in 1Q 2021, the report acknowledges monthly global search volumes have continued to grow in 2Q 2021, increasing more than 70% quarter-over-quarter. The ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and changes to travel restrictions around the world have clearly further driven search levels, which is evident in steady week-on-week volume rises.

The report illustrates that in Q2, positive global search volume was seen during 11 of the 13 weeks in the quarter – a sharp contrast to the fluctuations that were seen throughout Q1 2021 and across all of 2020.

The sustained quarter-over-quarter global search volumes also align with “a more optimistic consumer attitude for post-pandemic travel,” says Expedia. According to its Traveler Value Index Research, which surveyed respondents in eight countries around the world, 72% of consumers are planning on travelling over the next 12 months. 

Alongside the rise in search levels, search windows are also lengthening globally, influenced by travellers continuing to opt for trips closer to home. Through 2Q 2021 the Expedia research demonstrates that more than half of global searches again fell within the 0 to 21 days search window.

However, it shows the global search window is lengthening, indicating that traveller confidence is rising, and they are taking advantage of summer travel and starting to plan trips further out. Global searches 22 to 90 days out accounted for more than a third of searches (35%) in 2Q, up nearly 25% quarter-over-quarter. 

According to the Expedia report, 55% of global domestic searches fell within the 0 to 21 days search window, while searches 22 to 90 days out increased by nearly 20% quarter-over-quarter. Global international searches for the 31 to 90 days out search window increased 30% from 1Q 2021. In EMEA, searches 22 to 90 days out represented more than 40% of international searches in 2Q 2021, up from 15% in 1Q 2021.

This suggests that although travel shoppers continue to show preference for domestic travel, global international searches in 2Q 2021 indicates signs of a rebound in foreign travel. According to the findings, during multiple weeks in 2Q 2021, global international search growth outpaced domestic, likely in part “due to broadening global vaccine distribution, growing green lists and easing international travel restrictions in parts of the world,” notes Expedia.  

The positive impact of vaccination progress is clearly visible in 2Q 2021 international search data. When compared to search volumes during 2Q 2020, EMEA, APAC and LATAM all saw increased search volumes from America in 2Q 2021, showing that travel to destinations within these regions represent an attractive opportunity for the now widely vaccinated American traveller.

The report also notes a shift in destination popularity with big cities that had previously lost the interests of travellers, now in the spotlight. During 2Q 2021, beach and city destinations still made up the top 10 booked destinations around the world, though more cities are entering the top 10 or moving up in ranking in each region.

These include Chicago and Atlanta (NORAM); Seoul and Jeju City (APAC); Copenhagen and Paris (EMEA); and Houston and Mexico City (LATAM). New York made the list of top 10 booked destinations globally, and within all regions, except APAC.

Notably, across regions, the top 10 booked destinations were primarily for destinations within the same region, following the same 1Q 2021 trends. However, LATAM travellers booked more international trips in 2Q 2021 compared to the predominately regional bookings seen in 1Q 2021. New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Orlando all appeared on the LATAM top 10 list in 2Q 2021, while Houston and San Antonio again made the list. 

The research demonstrates that the growing popularity of city destinations has dovetailed with rising hotel demand during 2Q 2021. Global hotel demand increased more than 10% quarter-over-quarter, while global hotel length-of-stay remained consistent with the average trip duration seen in 1Q 2021, reports Expedia.

Positive environmental trends are also continuing through 2021. The 2Q 2021 report shows that travellers are increasingly interested in sustainable travel practices, whether that’s reducing their carbon footprint or easing the burden of over-tourism in a travel hotspot. Recent research from Expedia Group and Wakefield showed that nearly three in five travellers are actually willing to pay additional fees so their trip can be more sustainable, indicating that they consider environmental and social consciousness to be worthwhile and key drivers of choice.

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