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Travel Trends Research: Traveler Purpose and Trust Signals

August 10, 2021

Travel Trends Research Traveler Purpose

The travel industry came to a near-complete stop when the global pandemic took hold in the spring of 2020. Gone were the casual leisure vacationers looking for a weekend in the sun, the high-margin business trips for closers, and everyone in between.

As travel has begun to rise again, and a renewed interest in a performance-driven travel marketing strategy, we were curious to see where travelers’ attitudes stood. In April 2021, Noble Studios launched a research study to see what motivated their future travel planning, and what mattered to them now. 

Our travel trends research uncovered a few surprising findings and a few that were very relatable.

People Want to Relax

Travel Trends Research Relax

After a stressful year, we’re all done staring at the same four walls and are ready to break free and relax anywhere else. A change of scenery with a heavy dose of unwinding is in order! 

Our travel trends research supported this idea with 59% of respondents identifying that their most likely purpose of traveling is to relax. 

Other options provided to respondents included attending events with many people, traveling to take in a show or concert, and visiting a big city. 

Destinations can inspire travel through showcasing places perfect for being leisurely, like gardens, panoramic views, scenic drives, museums, historic sites, national parks, river walks or uncrowded public spaces to engage travelers.

DMOs and travel industry businesses can use personalization strategies for travel and tourism to capitalize on this finding. Custom itineraries and immersive technologies like AR can help move travelers beyond typical wellness amenities. 

When asked what types of future travel appealed to the respondents, 56% responded that somewhere with outdoor activities is attractive. Additionally, 47% responded that enjoying outdoor activities would be the primary purpose for their travel. 

Highlighting a destination’s main outdoor activities like hiking, bicycling, or golfing links together the ideas of relaxing through outdoor activities. 

Support With Trust Signals 

Travel Trends Research Lodging Considerations

Providing trust signals will inspire traveler confidence and overcome any fears. With sensitivity to contracting the virus still elevated throughout the United States, the simple truth remains that travelers want to interact with the destinations and brands that they know and trust.  

When respondents were asked about what type of travel appeals to them, 95% said that visiting somewhere they’ve been before was either appealing or neutral to the idea. Remarketing to past visitors has always been a savvy tactic, for the travel industry, it is even more important now. 

Our travel trends research also found that cleanliness was important to 86% of respondents, and brand and reputation were important or neutral to 94% of respondents.

To leverage these insights, travel brands should continue to include COVID-19 response information on their websites while also highlighting their brand values to reinforce their relationships. Both tactics help reinforce the trust and familiarity that travelers crave.

Setting Expectations

Travel Trends Research Pictures and video

Dreaming and planning leisure travel is one of the most enjoyable phases of the travel journey. Even for travelers planning to return to a known destination, there’s a curiosity to know what’s changed since their last visit. 

Seeding this curiosity with current photos and images is powerful. These images create expectations for the experience and can help sway travelers towards visitation. 

In our travel trends survey, 50% of respondents said pictures and videos of the destination are important in decision-making. 

Another benefit of using current photos and video is that it will convey the story of the destination. Visual content that emotionally engages with travelers leads to greater attention, brand loyalty, and visitation.

Time to Relax

Helping travelers relax, building trust, and relying on images to showcase a destination today are actionable takeaways to facilitate the travel recovery. But we have more insights! Learn how travelers are seeking familiar destinations and what travel planning looks like now to them in our other travel trends research findings.

Knowing that the Delta variant is changing local restrictions and traveler perceptions rapidly, we’re curious to see how these responses will change and will revisit this study in the fall of 2021.

Want a deeper dive into the survey? Let’s talk!

About the Survey:

Our survey was a snapshot in time taken as COVID-19 fears were decreasing and travel began to rise. Since then, volatility has returned and the Delta variant has negatively affected travel sentiment. 

S2 Research Noble Studios

Noble Studios partnered with S2 Research to execute an online survey between April 21 through 23, 2021. There were 503 responses in the United States from adults at least 18 years of age and who self-identified that they would travel at least once per year in a typical year. The confidence level for the results is 95% (±4% margin of error.)

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