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It's been clear for months that there's pent-up demand for travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic but new data from Google reveals the extent of travelers' desire to get back out there.
Search demand for travel in May was up 270 percent compared to May 2020 at the peak of the coronavirus crisis, Google found, reporting that the figure is likely to rise even higher. Meanwhile, search for terms like "where to travel to" have spiked, as have views of travel-related content on YouTube.
Searches for "can I travel" have jumped more than 800 percent within the last month alone and inquiries for "travel to" and "hotel booking app" have climbed by more than 100 percent. Activities are also gaining momentum. For example, the term "rentals near" has seen global growth of 100 percent year-over-year, with travelers showing interest in things like kayaks, bikes and boats.
Fifty-seven percent of people are hoping to travel more when the pandemic is over and the same figure expects travel bookings to be flexible in terms of convenient, penalty-free change and cancellations.
According to Google, Millennial and Gen-Z generations are the most eager to travel again. This Next-Gen generation represents more than half of all Americans and a whopping $350 billion in spending power in the U.S. In addition to solid amenities and reputation, these travelers are seeking comfort (47 percent), convenience (41 percent) and good reviews (41 percent).
These generations are also seeking out unique experiences, with 43 percent wanting experiences that are "new to me." Next-Gen travelers aren't necessarily loyal though as they are 1.6 times less likely to belong to an airline loyalty program and nearly two times less likely to book a hotel room through a loyalty program.
When it comes to travel messaging in 2021, Google identified a trio of keywords that are clicking with Next-Gen travelers, including "escape and relax" (52 percent), "budget-friendly" (38 percent) and "adventurous" (38 percent).
More broadly, the terms "relaxing" (51 percent), "new to me" (40 percent) and "stress-free" (41 percent) are resonating with travelers of all generations. In terms of COVID-19 considerations, travelers are drawn to keywords like "safety" (59 percent), "flexible" (56 percent) and "full control" (56 percent).
The rising interest in travel is fantastic news for the industry but providing flexibility and leveraging these latest trends will be key for companies and brands hoping to set themselves apart.
A Maryland native and wanderer who has lived across the U.S. from North Carolina to SoCal, Patrick Clarke graduated from Towson...
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