Travel Industry Trends for 2021: Safety and Technology | Pacaso

Travel predictions for 2021: Safety, tech and simplicity are key

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Amie Fisher

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Many people have canceled or delayed their 2020 travel plans, but the desire to explore has not diminished — if anything, after months spent largely at home, we’re more eager than ever to experience a change of scenery. A recent Bookings.com report analyzed survey results from over 20,000 global respondents as well as search and other data to compile a list of nine predictions for the future of travel.  Among the key findings: People still want to travel, but they’re interested in staying closer to home and finding activities away from the crowds, often in more natural settings. Here is a summary of the nine predicted trends.

1. Search will continue to be a form of escapism

With fewer opportunities to travel in real life, daydreaming about future travels has been a popular pandemic pastime, and this will likely continue. Booking.com’s survey found that almost all respondents (95%) spent time looking for travel inspiration, and 38% browsed travel destinations as often as once a week. People are also thinking about their past travels, and about a third (32%) report feeling nostalgic looking at old travel photos. Posting pictures from past trips has become a common trend on social media, particularly sites like Instagram and Pinterest. This form of escapism isn’t limited to travel sites — while people are thinking about new places to visit, they’re also imagining new places to live. A recent New York Times article chronicled the rise of “Zillow surfing” this year, noting that views of for-sale listings on Zillow jumped more than 50% year-over-year shortly after spring lockdowns were enacted. They surmised that

"Zillow surfing has become a primary form of escapism for those who want to flee not just their homes but the reality of 2020."

Most likely, a portion of these “daydream” searches are for vacation homes — the ultimate aspiration for some. Indeed, according to the Pacaso Second Home Sentiment Report, interest in second home ownership has increased this year: In November, about 56% of Pacaso’s survey respondents indicated a desire to own a second home, compared with 46% before Covid-19.

2. Work and vacation will overlap

As entire industries have transitioned to telework, many companies are rethinking the future of offices. In a post-pandemic world, it’s likely that many businesses will provide greater flexibility to employees wishing to work from home — or anywhere. Booking.com predicts that travelers in 2021 will take longer trips that combine work and pleasure, noting that over half the respondents (52%) said they would take the opportunity to extend a business trip to add leisure time.When it comes to accommodations, over a third (37%) of the travelers have considered booking a place to stay simply for a change of scenery — while they would primarily work from their destination, they desire a nice view or cozy area to enhance their experience. The ability to work from a comfortable, beautiful location is a key benefit of second home ownership. Pacaso owner Kirk describes this “best of both worlds” experience at his second home in Napa Valley:

"I can sit by the pool and do my Zoom calls…. I can just open my computer and look out and see the vineyards."

3. Tech will drive travel

Technology can offer safety, personalization and insight into travel destinations. It’s no surprise as we’ve become accustomed to app-driven services that we expect tech to make our travels easier too. Safety remains a key concern for many travelers, with 63% of the Booking.com respondents stating that properties will need to use the latest technologies to make them feel safe.Advances in personalization, which enable technology to provide more accurate recommendations and geo-specific information, are also valued. More than half (55%) of travelers reported feeling excited about ways technology can further personalize their travel experiences. The survey also found that ease and flexibility were priorities, and more than 53% of people want simple tech options for things like last-minute restaurant reservations. Pacaso’s owner app was developed precisely to address these needs and expectations. The streamlined and equitable scheduling system makes it easy for co-owners to book a stay, providing the opportunity to plan ahead and the flexibility to make changes and take advantage of short-notice stays.

4. Maximizing value will be a priority

For many worldwide, the economic impact of the pandemic has been significant, potentially dampening travel dreams. Across the board, travelers are looking for opportunities to save, with nearly two-thirds (62%) saying they’ll be more cost-conscious when planning their next trip.People also want flexibility and waived charges or change fees if plans change — because if we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that plans will change. About three-quarters (74%) of respondents said they want booking platforms to be more transparent about cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance. In addition, 46% said refundable accommodations are a must-have, and 36% want the flexibility to change arrival dates free of charge. For those considering second home ownership, Pacaso offers a modern way to own a turnkey home. Most second home owners stay at their properties a few weeks or months a year yet pay the full cost of ownership. Pacaso’s co-ownership model lets buyers purchase the number of shares that matches their needs. 

5. Safety remains top of mind

Nearly everyone is concerned about safety and cleanliness, and for many of us, it influences where we go and who we see. It’s not surprising, then, that 70% of people in the Booking.com survey indicated they will only book a stay if they know what health and hygiene policies are in place. ​Similarly, people are wary of crowded transit options, and nearly half (46%) said they’d prefer to avoid mass transit, including airplanes and trains. Driving to nearby destinations is seen as a safer, more appealing option. This data is consistent with Pacaso’s Second Home Sentiment Report, which found that potential buyers of second homes would overwhelmingly prefer to drive to their second home (71%) vs. fly (27%). 

6. Responsible travel is on the rise

People have become more aware of the environmental impacts of travel, and 53% of respondents in Booking.com’s survey said they will consider more sustainable ways to travel. In tandem with that effort, they prefer to avoid travel during peak season (51%), overcrowding (48%) and overly busy tourist attractions (63%).They also want to be good citizens of the areas they visit, with more than half (55%) expressing an interest in how their spending supports the local community.Pacaso owners are part of their communities, and they have the flexibility to stay when the crowds have left — or simply choose a location far from the crowds to begin with.

7. Travelers seek simple pleasures

As our priorities have shifted, interest in glitzy resorts, nightlife, theme parks and the like seem to have diminished. Over two-thirds of Booking.com respondents (69%) expressed an interest in simpler experiences, such as spending time outdoors or with family while on vacation. Many travelers are solely seeking relaxation, with more than half (51%) saying this was their preferred type of trip.When thinking about where to stay during these lower-key travels, many desire a home away from home, with 42% preferring a vacation home or apartment to a hotel — a significant shift from 2019, when 64% of travelers reported a preference for hotels. Almost half (46%) said they will eat in, so a well-equipped kitchen is an important feature.Being able to unwind and feel at home was a priority for Pacaso owner Sheray and a key factor in her and her husband’s purchase decision.

"I was hesitant – was it going to feel like home away from home? And it did feel like home. It's been a great experience."

She also described their Pacaso as “very well-appointed,” with everything provided for owners to whip up their favorite meal. 

8. Passion for travel persists

We may be limited to online travel escapism for the moment, but that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm for future adventure. Booking.com’s survey found that about two-thirds (65%) of travelers are excited about traveling again. Some hope to re-create an event they missed out on, with 38% intending to plan a trip to make up for a missed celebration and 40% planning to rebook a canceled trip. 

9. Local travel will be a popular choice

People may be eager to get away from home — but not too far away, just yet. The data indicated that 47% of people still plan to travel within their own countries over the medium term (through mid-2021) and 38% plan to stay local over the longer term (later 2021 and beyond). Still, people are interested in seeing new places, and 43% plan to visit a new destination within their home region/country. Consistent with the “simple pleasures” trend, 46% indicated they’ll take time to appreciate their country’s natural beauty. Pacaso has second home listings in some of the most desirable markets across the U.S., many within driving distance of major metro areas. Make your travel daydreams a reality with co-ownership of a beautiful vacation home, and enjoy the flexibility, safety, community and comfort of a home away from home. 

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