Price is a lower priority for travellers than other factors such as financial security, cleanliness and safety, according to research conducted by Expedia.
The OTA has published its Traveller Value Index based on the view of 8,000 people in eight countries examining what their expectations are as travel starts to return.
The research found high levels of support for vaccination passports to allow travel, positive levels of intention to travel both domestically and overseas and increased budgets for travel.
It also found respondents are looking for new experiences and are likely to favour brands that meet their expectations in terms of personal values like sustainability and inclusivity.
Financial security and safety ranked as the highest priorities for travellers, which Expedia said was a “shift from the conventional wisdom that price drives consumer behaviour”.
More than one in four travellers most valued the ability to get a refund, particularly in the airline (26%) and holiday rental (26%) sectors followed by enhanced cleaning and disinfection.
Expedia said this highlighted a need for travel providers to clearly communicate cancellation policies and cleanliness measures to ease anxieties and build confidence.
Ariane Gorin, Expedia Group’s president of Expedia for Business, said: “As vaccination rates rise and borders open across the globe, people are ready and eager to travel.
“However, the months of uncertainty are weighing on their travel decisions and shifting the conventional belief that price is the top driver of bookings.
“These insights show people want to book with trusted travel providers that will deliver on their experiences, keep them safe, and protect their financial investments.”
The Traveller Value Index factors shaping booking decisions:
- The ability to get a full refund if plans change;
- Atypical, low pricing caused by low demand during the pandemic;
- Contactless experiences like card-less hotel or holiday rental entry, online check-ins, or digital boarding passes;
- Environmentally friendly policies such as a reduced use of plastics or locally sourced food and products;
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures;
- Flexible policies to change bookings;
- First-class benefits and upgrade.
The Traveler Value Index indicates people are making travel a financial priority with more than a third (34%) saying they have larger travel budgets now compared to 2020.
Nearly one in five respondents globally (18%) said they expect travel to be the activity they spend most on in 2021, on par with major spending items such as home renovation (18%) and ahead of entertainment (12%), buying or taking care of a car (11%), or healthcare (11%).
More than third (36%) say they would trade a pay raise for more holiday entitlement.
Sixty percent responded that they are opting for domestic travel in the short-term, however, they plan to get away more often, nearly half (41%) wanting more frequent, shorter, trips.
More than a quarter (27%) said they are considering a trip to another country in the next year and 71% were comfortable showing a vaccine passport to travel overseas.
New and different experiences are being prioritised over nostalgic destinations, according to the results of the research with 75% saying they are likely to select a travel destination they’ve never been to before.
And more than half (52%) said they are likely to use a new mode of transportation, and nearly a quarter (22%) said they are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on their next trip.
The index also found travellers want to make value-based decisions that reflect their own personal views like supporting sustainable practices.
Nearly three in five (59%) said they would be willing to pay higher prices to make their trip more environmentally sustainable.
And 65% said they are more likely to book with travel providers that have inclusive policies like properties owned by women and/or people from the BAME community, are welcoming to LGBTQIA+ guests, and are supportive of people with disabilities.