Travel Intent For 2022 Continues to Climb, While Consumers Remain Cautious About Holiday 2021 Plans

Zeta Global, a cloud-based marketing technology company that empowers enterprises to acquire, grow, and retain customers more efficiently, today released Travel Intent trends ahead of the second consecutive holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Pet Friendly Hotels/Motels; Pets Stay Free, etc.) Safe & clean keywords become less relevant than they were earlier in pandemic Air Travel ”

Travel continues to rebound from its 2020 downturn, with vaccinations and booster shots creating a higher level of consumer confidence and inspiring significant intent to book airfare and hotels in the future. However, according to our Zeta Pulse consumer sentiment survey of ~1000 people across the US, most people (53.6%) prefer to stay close to home this holiday season with COVID-19 still being a top concern.

Furthermore, with the United States planning to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign visitors starting in November (details here), data from Zeta’s partnership with Adara demonstrates international bookings are beginning to rapidly rise.

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Below are top travel trends heading into winter 2021/2022:

Holiday Travel

  • People are planning to stay closer to home for the holidays:
    • 53.6% of consumers would rather stay home, with 30% willing to travel longer distances and 16.36% still undecided
    • COVID-19 remains the top concern for travelers (39.74%), followed by destination ticket prices/availability (19.23%) and vaccination requirements (10.26%)
    • Travel by car is the most preferred way to travel for second year in a row (37.14%), compared to air travel (25.71%), cruise (17.14%), bus (11.43%) and train (8.57%)
    • Adults aged 18-29 with a household income between $30k and $99K are the most likely to travel this holiday season
    • Women aged 18-29 & 40-60+ are the least likely to travel during the holidays, citing COVID-19 safety concerns
  • International bookings for both air and hotels have started to surge, with timing of spike correlated to the US’s recent policy change allowing entry for fully vaccinated foreign travelers (Adara)
    • International air travel and hotel bookings began spiking on September 13 and have risen ~10x since then
    • Compared to 2019, 2021 international air travel and hotel bookings are still down ~60%
    • Compared to 2020, there has been a 2.3x increase in flight demand and 3x in hotel bookings
    • Major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco are among the most popular destinations

Hotel/Motel Bookings

  • Hotel bookings continue to recover at a steady rate. 2021 bookings are higher than 2020, but have not quite reached pre-pandemic levels
    • Compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2021 hotel bookings have decreased only 31% during August-October for November-December check-ins
    • Compared to 2020, there have been 2x more bookings made in 2021 (to date) for November-December check-ins (this ratio has been consistent since the start of summer)
  • Traveling consumers prefer to stay in hotels over family/friends or private rentals
    • 48% of responders plan to stay in hotels or motels during their holiday travel
      • 22.45% budget hotels/motels
      • 20.41% national hotel chains
      • 6.12% boutique/luxury hotels
    • 24.49% plan to stay with friends or family
    • 18.37% plan to camp or stay in RV sites
    • 8.16% private rentals (AirBnb, VRBO, etc.)
  • Pet-friendliness has become a critical consumer travel need as a result of the pandemic-inspired pet ownership boom
    • Pet friendly keywords continue to dominate hotel/motel searches (such as “Pet Friendly Hotels/Motels; Pets Stay Free, etc.)
    • Safe & clean keywords become less relevant than they were earlier in pandemic

Air Travel

  • Air travel for the holidays is on the road to recovery (Adara)
    • 2021 air travel is up 94% over 2020
    • Compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2021 air travel is down 61%
  • However, general interest in air travel interest soars to pre-pandemic levels, forecasting a boom in 2022
    • Zeta air travel intent data demonstrates highest interest since pre-pandemic travel
    • 46.53% of responders interested in air travel for holiday season 2021 (November-December) are mostly from states more prone to harsh winter weather

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