Smarter, Kinder, Safer: Booking.com Study Reveals Key Predictions For The Future Of Travel
Global research by Booking.com reveals new data-driven insights and travel trends in Singapore and APAC markets for the year ahead, and beyond
With few facets of our lives and the world left unchanged by the impact of the global pandemic, travel too will be forever re-shaped by this extraordinary moment. Digital travel leader Booking.com has combined research from more than 20,000 travellers across 28 countries* with insights from proprietary search and endorsement data, as well as over 20 years’ of travel expertise, to reveal key predictions for the future of travel across the world, including Singapore and Asia Pacific (APAC) markets - in the coming year and beyond.
“Travel remains fundamental if not even more meaningful to our lives than before, and for the sector to truly bounce back, we need to understand what is critically important to travellers beyond 2020,” said Nuno Guerreiro, Booking.com Regional Director, South Asia, Oceania & Chains. “As we look towards a brighter 2021, we hope these insights from Booking.com’s annual global survey, the Future of Travel, alongside our services and offerings, will continue to further our mission of making it easier for everyone to experience the world. We will be there to support travellers seeking reassurance and inspiration to experience the world again, and a travel industry looking to recover and rebuild together.”
Over half of (55%) Singapore travellers responded they won’t be comfortable travelling until an effective coronavirus vaccine or treatment is in place, echoing sentiments by Singapore's Transport Minister, Ong Ye Kung, who recently stressed the importance of developing a widely available and effective vaccine to help countries open their borders.
However, amidst new waves of travel hiatuses, restrictions and continued uncertainty, our innate human desire to travel has not dampened. During recent lockdowns, two-thirds (63%) of Singapore travellers reported being excited about travelling again. Three-quarters (76%) also noted that they are especially appreciative of travel and wouldn’t take it for granted moving forward, vastly exceeding the global average of 61%. Our time at home has made us crave the world outside more than ever, with over half (53%) of Singapore respondents asserting a heightened desire to see even more of the world.
Notably, Singapore (41%) and Hong Kong (55%) are amongst the top countries in Asia Pacific with the most respondents who plan to travel more in the future to make up for lost time in 2020, and this could be due to how both markets have traditionally been more reliant on international travel, given their small size and well-connected geographical location as key aviation hubs for the region.
With this, we can expect travel companies to get creative in 2021 with new itineraries and recommendations designed to capture the imaginations of travellers who missed out on trips in 2020, making their next trip more memorable and meaningful.
The economic impact of the coronavirus will inevitably see people demand more value for their bookings in the future. 70% of Singapore travellers will be more price conscious when it comes to planning a trip in the future, above the global average of 62%. 59% of Singaporeans are also more likely to hunt down promotions and savings - behaviours that we predict will last years.
But the value Singapore consumers expect will go beyond price tags, with three-quarters (76%) stating they want travel booking platforms to increase their transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance options. Furthermore, 53% of Singapore respondents consider refundable accommodation a must-have for their next trip, exceeding the global average of 46%. Singapore travellers (42%) also value the flexibility to change dates without being charged, more than any other country in the APAC region.
While value is crucial, Singapore travellers are also keen to support the industry in its recovery (71%), and most Southeast Asian nations exceed the global average in this regard. Thailand travellers overwhelmingly (82%) want to see how their money is going back into the local economy, exceeding the global average of 55%, and they are especially keen to support their travel destinations’ recovery efforts (84%). As the “Land of Smiles” has long been a popular destination among travellers, and now severely impacted by the lack of tourists in 2020, this may be a reason for their desire to contribute to the local economy and recovery efforts in future travel.
Overall, the industry will need to come together to respond inventively to offer deeper value, better choices, increased flexibility and transparency, as well as more thoughtful experiences for tomorrow’s travellers as they scrutinise spend in 2021 and beyond.
Echoing global trends, safety will be at the forefront of travellers’ minds moving forward, with 82% of Singapore travellers stating they will take more precautions when travelling in the future due to the coronavirus, slightly exceeding the global average of 79%. Governments, travel associations and providers will have to work cohesively to set consistent standards to help keep travellers safe, and with expectations heightened, some destinations and businesses will need to work harder to regain travellers’ trust. 62% of Singapore travellers will avoid certain destinations, and 73% expect tourist attractions to adapt to allow for social distancing. At the same time, 73% will only book a particular accommodation if it’s clear what health and hygiene policies it has in place, with three quarters (75%) favoring accommodations that have antibacterial and sanitising products.
In the short-term, there will also be a change in transport preference and provisions, with almost half of global respondents (46%) opting to avoid public transport for fear of contracting the coronavirus. Contrasting global trends, only 18% of Singapore travellers surveyed will avoid public transport for fear of contracting the coronavirus. This reflects a degree of trust and safety that Singaporeans have in public infrastructure, as Singapore continues to handle the pandemic well, with the country's fatality rate being one of the lowest in the world and new infections in the community kept down.
The ‘new normal’ will also see travellers prioritise and adhere to increased health and safety measures, with many becoming second nature sooner than we think. Just as we have become accustomed to travelling without liquids in our carry on luggage and removing shoes to go through airport security, more than two-thirds of Singapore respondents (69%) will accept travelling to destinations that have health spot checks on arrival and 64% will accept wearing a mask in public. However, quarantine measures still remain the biggest deterrent, with far fewer (30%) Singapore travellers willing to accept these in order to travel to a particular destination.
With nearly half (47%) of Singapore travellers wanting to travel more sustainably in the future, we expect to see a more eco-conscious mindset in 2021 and beyond, as the coronavirus has amped people’s awareness about their impact on the environment and local communities. More than two-thirds (73%) expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options and travellers will consequently visit alternative destinations in a bid to avoid travelling during peak season (59%) and overcrowding (50%). 67% will also stay away from crowded tourist attractions, indicating that destinations will need to adapt new, smart crowd management measures to appease travellers visiting their country.
Furthermore, more Singapore travellers (47%) said they wanted to travel more sustainably, than those who noted they wanted to travel more in the future to make up for lost time (41%). Travellers in Thailand (68%) and Vietnam (59%) echoed the same sentiment, exceeding the global average of 53%. Singapore travellers believe that the industry must adapt to this sustainable mindset for the long-term by offering attractive off-season travel packages (51%) and proposing alternative destinations to prevent overcrowding (38%).
However, although most Southeast Asia respondents noted the impact of COVID-19 had inspired them to consider reducing waste and/or recycling their plastic when travelling, they are still less willing to pay for carbon offsetting or avoid a destination because travelling there would be environmentally taxing.
Working remotely has irreversibly entered the mainstream during the pandemic with the knock-on effect that people will look to take longer trips in the future that more effectively combine work and pleasure. No longer confined to five days a week in an office and desperate for a change of scene from home, we’ll see a significant rise in the “Workcation”, with travellers looking to extend their vacation experience in new locales by staying an extra week or two to work remotely - or conversely factoring holiday around a stint of remote working. Expect laptops to become even more of a mainstay in luggages than ever before.
Half (50%) of Singapore travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, exceeding the global average of 37%. This comes as little surprise as Singapore workers are known to be among the hardest working in the world, according to the number of hours clocked. 40% would also be willing to travel to a destination that forces them to self-isolate on arrival if they can work remotely while in quarantine.
While companies will undoubtedly reassess their approach to business travel in the future, workers will continue to maximise the trips they do take, with over half of Singapore travellers (59%) saying they would take the opportunity to extend any business trips to also enjoy leisure time at the destination. In contrast, Japan travellers are the least likely (29%) in the world to do so, and well below the global average of 52%.
Overall trends highlight a need for travel platforms and accommodations to prioritise showcasing home office facilities and Wi-Fi speed in an attempt to attract this new wave of digital nomads. Likewise, the world of corporate travel will see increasing demand for privacy, cleanliness and longer stays among those travelling for business, requiring alternative accommodations to seriously up their ‘work-friendly’ game.
As we learn to live with the stressful consequences of the pandemic, travellers will be keen to embrace a new and stripped-back way of experiencing the world. So much time spent in our own homes with our loved ones has given birth to adjusted priorities and a desire to enjoy more of our natural resources. Use of simple pleasure-related endorsements such as hiking (94%), clean air (50%), nature (44%) and relaxation (33%) on Booking.com have increased globally since the start of the pandemic***, while research shows that over two thirds of Singapore travellers (71%) will look to appreciate more simple experiences such as spending time outdoors or with the family while on vacation.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand travellers are the most likely to seek out more rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences to immerse themselves into the outdoors than any other APAC country, as well as the UK and USA. Relaxing trips will also be high on the travel agenda in the ‘new normal’, with more than half of global respondents (51%) saying it was their preferred type of trip followed by beach breaks (40%) and city trips (29%).
Founded in 1996 in Amsterdam, Booking.com has grown from a small Dutch startup to one of the world’s leading digital travel companies. Part of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), Booking.com’s mission is to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. By investing in the technology that helps take the friction out of travel, Booking.com seamlessly connects millions of travellers with memorable experiences, a range of transportation options and incredible places to stay - from homes to hotels and much more. As one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for both established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes, Booking.com enables properties all over the world to reach a global audience and grow their businesses. Booking.com is available in 44 languages and offers more than 29 million total reported accommodation listings, including more than 6.7 million listings alone of homes, apartments and other unique places to stay. No matter where you want to go or what you want to do, Booking.com makes it easy and backs it all up with 24/7 customer support.