One of the few certainties of this turbulent period for the travel sector is that travel habits, at least for this summer, will change a lot compared to the trends of recent years.
Even though summer is just around the corner and the end of the crisis is starting to come, it is still early to make assessments on actual bookings. A valid forecast on the near future of hospitality, however, comes from the analysis conducted by Airbnb on searches on its portal.
The famous OTA, of which we are Preferred Software Partner, has in fact analyzed user searches for Italy, France and Spain and the results are surprising.
The first effect of the restrictions caused by the virus is that most Italians (82%) plan to spend their holidays in Italy this year, compared with 55% last year. Among the destinations most sought after by Italians are Sicily, Sardinia, Puglia, Trentino Alto-Adige and the Etruscan Coast (in Tuscany and Lazio).
2020 promises to be the summer of smart working. Many workers will opt to combine holidays (perhaps reduced by the forced quarantine period) and work, thus spending a longer period in the holiday venue. In fact, 66% of searches on Airbnb concern stays longer than a week (last year it was 32%). On the contrary, searches for the weekend show a sharp drop (-70%).
Finally, regarding the type of stay, social distancing and security will influence the choice. 62% of Italians will opt for completely independent solutions. Single houses, villas and bungalows, possibly with swimming pool and in places far from the main tourist destinations, will be the most requested.
From the searches on the portal, it’s clear that the French want to go back to travel. Between April and May, 21.2 million French users have sought a stay for the next few months. As for Italy, the majority (86%) looked for national destinations, 3 times more than a year ago.
During quarantine, the number of searches over long periods increased significantly. With the relaxation of restrictions, both searches for short and long periods stabilized at around 35%.
Again, travellers prefer independent properties, 43% by the sea and 16% in rural locations, confirming the trend of rural tourism. Following the preferences of their neighbours across the Alps, 48.8% of the French sought properties with a swimming pool.
As for Italy and France, we find similar trends also among Spanish tourists. At the end of May, searches for accommodation in Spain are very close to pre-pandemic levels and almost 60% of Spanish travellers choose to travel within their borders. In this case too, interest in long stays is growing. Searches carried out in Spain for national destinations and with a duration longer than four weeks, grew in May at a daily rate of 180% compared to the previous year. And what about the type of stay? The Spaniards dream of family holidays in independent properties, with swimming pool (50%) and pet-friendly (12%).
How to best react to this situation?
Analyzing searches on Airbnb in recent weeks, two main trends are evident. The stays will last on average longer and independent properties in “secondary” locations will be preferred.
To meet these new needs of travellers, we recommend accommodation facilities to adopt 3 specific measures:
1. Set weekly or monthly discounts
Adding weekly or monthly discounts to your listings could encourage guests to book a longer stay in one of your properties. This will allow you to increase bookings with a longer duration. In addition, Airbnb improves the visibility of facilities that provide discounts for longer periods.
2. Increase or cancel the Max Length of Stay
If your property has a maximum length of stay of less than a week, your listing will not be shown to those looking for long stays. We therefore recommend extending or eliminating the mandatory maximum duration.
3. Apply flexible cancellation policies
Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, the cancellation policy is a key factor that many users look at before deciding to book. As with weekly and monthly discounts, Airbnb also highlights listings with flexible cancellation terms. Consider moving from rates with rigid policies to flexible ones to increase bookings.