Four trends that highlight how Covid-19 has shaped the way people travel


Property management software company Guesty, used by professional hosts to manage properties on Airbnb, Vrbo, and, shares travel trends and predictions for travel in 2021

UK consumers have already begun looking ahead to plans for later in 2021, with a number of noticeable booking trends sure to shake up travel this year. 

Last-minute bookings and flexible cancellation policies make consumers confident to book:

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Last-minute bookings have been trending since last summer. In December, globally, 14% of reservations were made on the same day as check-in and 38% of reservations were made within a week of the reservation itself.

Consumers will increasingly book last-minute trips to avoid having to cancel plans, which will result in a more profitable Q1 2021 than expected, especially coupled with widespread vaccine distribution. A majority of hospitality providers will in parallel offer reduced rates for no-cancellation bookings, which will become increasingly popular as travel normalises.

Travellers will book for longer:

The average length of stay is back on the rise after slightly decreasing last fall. This has been influenced by the more contagious second strain of COVID, and coincides with a shift from multiple short breaks to fewer trips for longer time frames. We saw this in March 2020 when consumers were first hesitant to travel due to the original virus, and are seeing it again now as bookings made in Q1 2021 are significantly longer in the UK; with an average of 9.1 days long compared to Q1 2020’s 4.5. As the vaccine takes effect, the lengths of stay will likely shorten. 

Short-Term Rental Converts:

The short-term rental ecosystem is undergoing a disruptive moment. The industry has gained a tremendous amount of new users in the last year who had never before considered accommodations outside of traditional hotel stays, but have during the pandemic given the private nature rentals (less crowded common areas, guest turnover, etc.). Throughout the pandemic, short term rentals have consistently outperformed hotels.

Travellers will look for – and expect – light touch stays:

Regardless of where consumers stay, hotel or private rental, travellers will increasingly seek accommodations that are contact-free or light-touch, meaning they have implemented technology to limit human interaction between staff and guests. COVID-19 is speeding up innovation in the space, pushing more traditional property management companies to adopt tech much more quickly than they likely would have. Contact-free stays are one of the top guest expectations to limit as much human interaction as possible, with hospitality companies implementing keyless entry tools, tools to monitor cleaning staff remotely and automated check-in/check-out messaging tools.

Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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