Online searches for accommodations over the past few months are reflecting how consumers are viewing travel in the new normal, and several unique trends are emerging.
Travellers are understandably seeking heightened reassurances of hygiene and safety, as well as seclusion. There is a growing demand for getaways that are off the beaten track and offer unique experiences – properties that are closer to nature, ones that have an assortment of outdoor amenities, or are laden with luxury features.
Furthermore, people want to experience longer stays but in another home, blurring the line between living and travel. Amenities that offer the full flexibility of a home away from home, such as WiFi, kitchens, and outdoor access, are being sought by travellers as they seek to experience life somewhere new, after a long six months of being homebound. Most are seeking a change of scene to inspire creativity and productivity.
From digital nomads, and millennials to solo-travellers and families, all are looking at newer use-cases for travel during the pandemic.
Airbnb highlights some of the key trends observed over the past 90 days that paint a picture of travel in the new normal:
- Live Anywhere with digital nomads driving the trend: Airbnb’s data suggests that over 20 percent of all searches on Airbnb within the last three-month period in India, have been for long-term stays (more than 28 nights) at a property. This shows that with access to technology and remote working infrastructure people are willing to relocate to new accommodations for months at a time. This marked interest coincides with an increase in longer-term stays by creatives, authors, and entrepreneurs. For example, Designer Masaba Gupta spent months in Goa staying at an Airbnb, working on her new collection. Additionally, a further 36 percent of searches have been for stays that are between seven to 27 nights. Combined, the trend for Live Anywhere accounts for demand across travel segments.
- Reconnecting with nature through unique accommodations such as tree houses, farm stays, lodges and campsites: In the past 90 days, while 45 per cent of searches by travellers were for tree houses. Searches for barns and farm stays stood at 41 per cent and 34 per cent respectively. With summer coming to a close, many families are exploring breaks with their children, and searches for ‘trips with kids’ account for nearly a fifth of all searches over the last 90 days. Indian culture is deeply family-oriented and close-knit, and this crisis has connected families and re-established bonds with extended family and friends. Millennials are also looking at staying at places which are great to photograph and bring them some love on social media.
- Clean is the new green with Wi-Fi, kitchens and pools among the most sought-after amenities: A clean place you can call home with great Internet connectivity makes Airbnb the platform-of-choice for digital nomads. Working from home is translating to working from any home. With remote offices becoming the trend, people want to be connected all the time from anywhere; 23% of guests specifically searched for homes with Wi-Fi as a top amenity followed by kitchens and pools, over the last 90 days.
- The sunshine state remains one of the most sought-after tourist destinations amongst travellers: As per traveller wish lists over the past 90 days, Goa continues to be the most searched-for destination for homestays, followed by Lonavala, Shimla and Uttarakhand. According to Airbnb’s search trends from this period, guests travelling to Goa were looking for amenities such as a relaxing pool, gardens, and traditional Portuguese villas – further, the top 7 most wishlisted homes in India are in Goa. According to the Oxford Economics’ report on the impact of Airbnb in India, Goa had the largest share of Airbnb guest spending and the Airbnb community contributed US$61 million in Goa in 2019, benefiting local entrepreneurs and communities.
- Consumer confidence in travel continues to build: As the Indian government opens more travel bubbles with different countries, the sentiment and searches for key destinations such as the USA, UK, and UAE are on the rise.
Commenting on these trends, Amanpreet Bajaj, General Manager – Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said, “There is a gradual shift in consumer behavior towards travel. Our recent search trends have pointed to the fact that travelers are looking to explore safe and hygienic accommodations that offer flexibility. Bookings trends have shown us that unique stays and large homes have emerged as a choice for family and friends to be together for breaks and longer stay options. We see additional interest in amenities that offer a home away from home, and long-term travel that appeals to a number of individuals and families who want to establish a remote working base outside of their homes. We feel that these trends will continue to drive the market with demand with customer service innovation, and more intimate accommodation formats”.
What is clearly emerging is that while travel as we know it is still on the path of recovery, people are eager to see the world on their own terms and are looking at stays in newer, more intimate formats.