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Booking.com Reveals Hong Kong Travellers’ Preferences for Booking Travel Products and the 5 Emerging Trip Types of 2021

November 19, 2020 OTA News No Comments Email Email

The global pandemic has turned travel plans upside down in 2020. Looking ahead to 2021, the impact of the pandemic is changing not just our choice of destination but also the type of trips we’re most likely to take in the coming year. Following the release of its annual Travel Predictions research* and delving into its nearly 25 years of travel expertise, Booking.com – one of the world’s largest travel platforms and a digital technology leader – reveals Hong Kong travellers’ preferences for booking travel products and 5 emerging trip types of 2021. Booking.com is breaking down actionable insights the travel industry can leverage to deliver better guest experiences in 2021 and beyond, as it continues rebuilding together.

  • Solace in Solo / Transparency Transcends

The solo travel trend is likely to gather even greater momentum as people’s thirst to travel, which was stymied by the pandemic, will nudge them to take the plunge to travel on their own in 2021. Booking.com data pre-pandemic saw only 10%** of global travellers were planning a trip on their own, while 25%* of Hong Kong travellers now say they will be planning a solo trip in the future, to make up for travel time lost in 2020.

While planning a trip, information transparency goes beyond everything. With travellers demanding even more bang for their buck, transparency on cancellation policies, payment, refunds and flexibility – will become even more important. A significant nearly three quarters (72%) of Hong Kong travellers believe booking platforms need to increase their transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes, trip insurances and more. Booking.com has long sought to clearly highlight options for free or flexible cancellation policies at properties that have opted to make these options available, which has become all the more important as recovery begins. Going beyond just online travel platforms, 80% of Hong Kong travellers think airlines will have to offer more flexible tickets.

With more than half (58%) of Hong Kong travellers now considering the ability to cancel without charge, and 42% the flexibility to change dates, to be must haves for their future stays, accommodation providers can take action to meet consumer demands quickly. Booking.com is ensuring partners are set up for success when it comes to pricing, availability and flexibility, by introducing a tool which allows partners to implement flexible policies in just a few clicks to capture new bookings as well as providing Recovery and Pricing Toolkits to bring all key information and resources into an easy-to-navigate format.

  • Peace of Mind is Top of Mind for Relaxury

The unexpected halt to travel plans for most travellers has meant that just being able to travel at all is a luxury, in fact, 64%* of Hong Kong travellers have pledged to not take travel for granted in the future. So while research shows that travellers still have a high intention to travel again, only 18%* are now actually planning a luxury getaway (such as a villa, 5-star hotel), a majority (63%)* are planning a relaxing trip to get away from it all making relaxation the real luxury of 2021. But what does it take to get them to fully kick their feet up? It will come as a surprise to very few that health and hygiene tops the list of traveler concerns, with 83% stating they will take more precautions when traveling in the future. Globally, Booking.com has even seen the use of the words “clean” and “hygiene” have both increase by over 60% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic***. However, the importance of clear safety measures to deliver peace of mind to travellers cannot be understated.

Earlier this year, Booking.com made key product updates to make it simple for properties to display precautionary COVID-19 measures to travellers seeking this enhanced transparency while providing online resources to help partners navigate health and safety regulations and traveler preferences. With over 14 million listings on the Booking.com platform having now implemented health and safety measures, many property partners are ready to welcome the 74% of Hong Kong travellers that said they were more likely to book a particular accommodation if it’s clear what health and hygiene policies it has in place. While this may encompass simple but impactful measures like providing antibacterial or sanitizing products for use during a stay, with 76% of Hong Kong travellers stating they would be likely to book an accommodation if offered such products, we’re also seeing travellers open up to adopting automated interactions, such as online check-in, which 69% of Hong Kong travellers were willing to try, rather than interact with a person.

  • Breakaway Bubbles

In 2020, most travellers have had extended time apart from friends and family. For many it appears that distance has made the heart grow fonder as 58%* of Hong Kong travellers plan to use future travel as an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones. In fact, while being apart, 33%* of Hong Kong travellers have revealed that talking to friends and family about traveling is one of their main inspirations to travel again.

  • Weekend Wonders / Preference on Choosing Accommodation Has Changed

With many travellers feeling apprehensive that future travel plans could be disrupted again, there will be an increased demand for a quick trip as almost half of Hong Kong travellers (49%)* want to take more shorter breaks in 2021 than they did in 2019 to minimize any disappointment. Preference for choosing accommodation has changed as well. Just take travellers’ choice for accommodation type, for example: Booking.com survey data discovered that while 31% of Hong Kong travellers stated they were likely to avoid staying in a hotel; quite similarly, 39% of Hong Kong travellers stated they would avoid staying in a vacation home or apartment. While the pandemic accelerated the trend towards travellers choosing alternative accommodations – accounting for 40% of all new bookings globally in the second quarter – a trend we believe will continue into 2021, there are still travellers who will choose traditional hotels, and opportunities to deliver amazing guest experiences exist for the entire industry.

With personal preference reigning supreme more than ever before, Booking.com is innovating to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for – wherever and whatever that may be – with an updated search experience. This includes filters for customers looking for private, whole home accommodations and properties that have implemented health and safety measures, as well as introduced search options for trip themes, such as beach or hiking, and nearby destinations, surfacing tailored options and hidden gems to travellers while driving additional visibility for property partners to ensure they can attract travellers looking for their offering.

  • Food for Thought

Travellers’ desire to explore the world has not diminished but traveling abroad is still being avoided by a majority of global travellers (59%*) as travel restrictions are lifted. That is why local travel is the new way of exploring the world, with culinary delights being top of the list. And with taste buds at the ready, 38%* of travellers are keen to taste and indulge in local cuisine while traveling, with 31%* wanting to eat out more often with the money saved from not traveling abroad.

What’s Next

“We know travel is fundamental to people’s lives and that we will travel again despite this challenging time. Our survey data encouragingly found that 74% of Hong Kong travellers stated they will be more cautious when travelling, but they won’t be stopped from taking a trip,” said Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Booking.com. “At Booking.com, we’re doing everything we can to support property partners by relentlessly working to ensure our partners have the tools, technology and support they need to attract business and provide the best in hospitality to help fill their rooms, as it becomes possible for travellers to experience the world again.”

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