New research has found that Kiwis still have a strong appetite for travel and seek inspiration from a number of sources for exploring New Zealand.
While sustainable travel continues to be a priority, travellers are increasingly keen on being able to work remotely while on holiday in the COVID-19 era.
Many travellers will also be looking for tech innovations to rebuild confidence in travel in 2021, while as ever low prices are also very popular.
The findings come from a survey of 20,000 travellers across 28 countries, conducted for accommodation website Booking.com, including 499 people from New Zealand.
Work from holiday
The pandemic proved that when push comes to shove, we can work from anywhere and what could become a factor when international travel begins.
No longer confined to five days a week in an office or being desperate for a change of scene while working from home (WFH), the survey revealed strong demand for "workations". Laptops will become more common when travelling and fast internet connectivity will be as important as a mini-bar when it comes to accommodation.
The survey found that 32 percent of travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 44 percent would be willing to quarantine if they could work remotely.
As a result, travel booking platforms and accommodation websites will likely begin to highlight features such as home office facilities and Wi-Fi speed in an attempt to attract this new wave of digital nomads.
Tech innovation is expected to play a crucial role in rebuilding traveller confidence. Already, 61 percent of travellers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when travelling and 56 percent say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travellers feel safe.
Travel industry innovations are predicted to bring even more change, with enhanced online experiences influencing future travel behaviour and planning.
Nearly a third, 29 percent of travellers surveyed said they would feel more comfortable about going to an unknown destination if they could scout it out beforehand by using virtual reality (VR).
That being said, the real thing reigns supreme with only 22 percent expecting to participate in more virtual/online experiences; however, its prime role will reside in being a conduit for, rather than a replacement, for seeing, feeling and tasting for yourself.
While visiting destinations overseas has been put on hold for now, dreams of experiencing far flung cities and countries have not.
During weeks in lock-down, 95 percent of travellers spent time looking for vacation inspiration, with 34 percent looking at potential travel destinations as often as once a week.
The impact COVID-19 has had on the environment will be inspiring more travellers to make more sustainable travel choices in 2021, but the onus will be on the travel industry to make this happen and make it affordable. The research showed that 60 percent of travellers expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options.
Travellers believe that the industry must adapt to this sustainable mindset for the long-term by offering more attractive off-season travel packages and proposing alternative destinations to prevent overcrowding.
- 54 percent of those surveyed wanted more off-season options
- 32 percent liked the idea of alternative destinations to avoid overcrowding
There's also strong signals for travel operators to be more transparent about how travellers' money is being used to rebuild a community, paving the way for more regenerative tourism.
The majority of respondents, 63 percent, indicated that they want their travel choices to also support the destination's recovery efforts, and half want to see how their money is going back into the local community.
Keeping it cheap
The financial legacy of COVID-19 will inevitably see people demand more bang for their buck in the future. Sixty-two percent of travellers said they will be more price conscious when it comes to searching and planning a trip in the future and 52 percent were more likely to hunt down promotions and savings, and Booking.com predicts this behaviour will last for years.
But the value consumers expect will go beyond price tags, 75 percent of the survey group stated they want travel booking platforms to increase their transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance options.
Todd Lacey, New Zealand area manager of Booking.com, says that while the majority of travellers are keen to support the industry in its recovery and want their future bookings to help rebuild communities around the world, they will expect a lot more from the travel industry in return.
"In New Zealand, perhaps more so than many countries, the impact the pandemic has had on travel has been keenly felt. While the future of international travel remains uncertain, the ability to explore our own backyard continues to bring moments of joy and inspiration, whether through dreaming and planning, or cherishing the trips we have been able to take," Lacey said.