2020 A TIPPING POINT IN TRAVEL
A Year In Travel: Favourite Destinations, Lockdown Dreams, Growth in Mobile Transactions and Reaction to Vaccine Announcements ..
Europe’s largest online travel company eDreams ODIGEO, has analysed booking data from its customers to reveal how we were travelling pre-lockdown, and over the summer months as we emerged into a new traveler paradigm. Looking ahead, it’s bookings data reveals appetites and trends for 2021.
PRE-LOCKDOWN 1: January-March 2020
During the first months of 2020, eDreams ODIGEO customers around the world favoured London as their top destination, followed by Paris, Barcelona, Istanbul and Madrid. (See Table 1). This is based on booking and travel dates between the 1st January 2020 and 8th March 2020 - (pre-lockdown 1) and holds out hope for Heathrow airport which was overtaken in October this year by Paris's Charles de Gaulle as Europe's busiest airport. London hosted key football and rugby matches during this period as well as hosting the London Short Film Festival, London Art Fair (January) and London Fashion Week (February). While Europe flocked to London, the top British traveller destinations were Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris, with just one long-haul destination in the top 10: Dubai: typical of a trend in the early year for shortening horizons as the pandemic loomed in the East.
Shorter breaks: during this period travelers across all markets favoured short breaks with an overall average of 35% choosing breaks of just 3-4 days. The European continent average ticket price was 251€, with Italians spending the least (an average of 189€) - while the Swiss spent the highest average of 322€.
SUMMER 2020: June to 9th September - Top Destinations
COVID-19 has forced us to adapt our habits: so where did eDreams ODIGEO customers travel during the summer months of June, July, August and up to the 9th September 2020 as travel corridors opened up? Based on bookings made between 9 March and 9 September 2020, the top three destinations were Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Istanbul. (See Table 2). However across markets there was wide variation according to the different travel and quarantine regulations in place in separate countries. French travellers for example favoured Nice, Ajaccio and Lisbon, while the Portuguese favoured Paris and top destinations for British travellers were Istanbul, Lisbon and Alicante.
Most of us (33%) went away for 7-13 days in line with previous years’ summer holiday trends. We chose practical, short-haul destinations at a time when travel restrictions were changing rapidly, with air-bridges confirmed and then withdrawn at short notice. Strikingly, we travelled at short-notice - a whacking 31% of us booking within 5 days of departure in August, compared to just 14% in the same period last year.
It seems that safety and relative accessibility were traveller priorities, in variance to our lockdown dreams: during April-June 2020 when we could not travel, British consumer searches revealed that the destinations most longed-for included plenty of long-haul trips. Aside from a clear love of Spain (Alicante was most searched for, Malaga came in third and Tenerife fifth), we were lusting after escapes to New York, Bangkok, Orlando and Dubai.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2021
Bookings across all European markets for travel from 1 January - 31 December 2021 indicate that people are optimistic but cautious. Top destinations across all countries are mostly short and medium-haul, with Lisbon taking top spot followed by Istanbul (No2), Palma de Mallorca (No4), Tenerife (No5) and Paris (No6). Only Fort de France (Martinique, No3) and Bangkok (Thailand, No8) make it into the top ten. (See Table 3).
And for these 2021 trips, those of between 7-13 days remain most popular (32%) in line with our habits during the summer break, but the combined total percentage for trips of 14-20 days and trips of 21+ days is 35%, indicating we may well all go further, for longer - intent on making the most of each trip.
eDreams believes that progress in rolling out vaccines for Covid-19 is likely to alter this trend as dreams of travel further afield become practically possible. Searches since the vaccine announcements of 9th November (and up to 22nd November 2020) certainly indicate a thirst for travelling further: Dubai, New York and Bangkok as ever make it into the top three searches, with London at 6th place, followed by Denpasar (Indonesia), Tokyo (Japan) and Malé (Maldives). (See Table 4).
TRENDS AND THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL: insights emerging from eDreams ODIGEO’s data:
Last minute Bookings
With uncertainty still surrounding us, last minute bookings surged in the late summer months. In August 2020, 31% of bookings made by UK travellers through eDreams ODIGEO were made 1-5 days before travel (compared to 14% for the same month in 2019). 31% of bookings were also made just 6-15 days before travel, as confidence in long-term planning waned: this trend was consistent across all markets.
The same trend for last minute booking is evident for hotel bookings. In August 2020, 36% of hotel bookings made by British travelers were made 0-5 days before travel (rising from 31% for the same month in 2019). In August 2019, 34% of hotel bookings were made 31+ days before travel, compared to only 16% in the same month in 2020. The rise in last minute hotel bookings peaked in July 2020, when 23% of Brits booked their hotel 0-5 days before travel (in stark contrast to just 9% in June and 8% in May 2020). With data clearly showing last minute bookings are on the rise, holidaymakers turned to eDreams ODIGEO to find real-time flight and accommodation packages that allowed them to travel at the very last moment.
has also increased in popularity. According to an ILTM survey, "among clients willing to travel by air, the majority (39%) are travelling domestically with 27% taking long-haul flights". Top domestic destinations booked by Brits during the summer months 2020 were Belfast, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow - with Jersey taking 5th place despite it's incoming quarantine restrictions.
Mobile App Bookings Increase
According to Google Trends, online searches for ‘2021 holiday’ have increased by an incredible 124% since the end of March, giving the travel industry confidence that next year will see a stark uptake in holiday bookings. 57% of all flights booked in this period were transacted on a mobile device, up from 45% in the same period last year: a significant up-tick following the company’s strategic investment in mobile.
Trust and Flexibility
Covid-19 caused many to cancel vacations or trips that had often been planned months in advance. The recent trend in last-minute bookings stems from a desire to avoid being surprised by changing situations that might lead to further flight or accommodation cancellations. The travel industry needs to adapt, and eDreams ODIGEO now offers a "Flexible Travel Dates service" which includes ‘Flexflights’ on Opodo. Additionally, in October 2020 eDreams added Covid-19 insurance to its insurance offering, designed to offer its customers peace of mind and the confidence to book both flights and accommodation.
Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO, commented: “Whilst 2020 has been a difficult year for all sectors, including travel, our business has continued to develop and innovate during this time, ensuring that we emerge stronger from the crisis. We saw a rapid increase in bookings when travel restrictions were lifted in the summer which is a positive indication of what we can expect as we move towards a better sense of normality next year. We are excited about the news regarding vaccines which will enable markets to reopen and look forward to continuing to welcome back customers throughout 2021”.