While climate change and the pandemic clearly ratcheted up travelers' concerns about factors other than price, are we at the point that Airbnb will compete against Vrbo, and Booking will battle Expedia over which companies have the lighter carbon footprints? That would indeed be progress.
Basing travel decisions on price is so yesteryear, according to a new Expedia consumer survey, unless you are looking for a cruise.
In the results of a survey performed for Expedia Group that were announced Wednesday, 59 percent of respondents indicated they would pay higher fees to emphasize sustainability in their trips, and 65 percent would be more likely to book properties that are owned by women or people of color.
The survey of 8,000 adults, conducted by Wakefield Research in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the U.S. and UK from mid-April to early May, found respondents also expressing support for properties that welcome people with disabilities and the LGBTQIA+ community.
The one glaring exception to the majority view in Expedia Group’s Traveler Value Index was cruise passengers who were “the only respondents from numerous countries who rank low pricing as the top value,” Expedia stated in its summation of survey results.
Several cruise companies, including the world’s largest, Carnival Corp., have faced stiff penalties for their environmental transgressions, and this has also been a focus of destinations reliant on cruise passengers.
However, the sentiment among cruisers could see a generational shift. North American Gen Z cruisers, meaning those born in 1997 or later, ranked sustainable policies among cruise lines as their second highest value after price.
In its broad outlines, Expedia’s Traveler Value Index corresponds to the views espoused in Skift’s speculative Travel Megatrends 2025, in which we argued “that a growing segment of travelers — not everyone, for sure — is now mulling the relative impact their trips may have if they opt for Botswana instead of Barcelona, or choose to ride the rails closer to home instead of flying an Airbus A380 to a congested airport outside a teeming metropolis. This more-conscious decision was already happening among Millennial and Gen Z travelers years earlier.”
In an interview, Hari Nair, Expedia Group’s global general manager for account management, said travel firms shouldn’t fear taking a stand at this critical juncture coming out of the pandemic.
“This is an opportunity to be bold and make a position for yourself in the marketplace,” Nair said.
In other survey results pointing to travelers favoring considerations other than price, a majority of survey respondents in the U.S., Japan and Mexico saw enhanced cleaning as the most important factor in making car rental reservations, although finding car rental firms that would grant full refunds was the most important factor overall.
Along similar lines, the survey found travelers under 40 years old in the U.S. and Japan positioned enhanced cleaning as their top priority when booking hotels, and they likewise emphasized contactless experiences and premium perks as priorities. The older the respondent, the more they tended to support the ability to get a full refund from a hotel or vacation rental as their top concern.
The survey found broad support for vaccine passports, with 71 percent of respondents answering that they would be comfortable with a requirement to show a vaccine passport to enable cross-border travel.
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Photo credit: A woman on an art walking tour in Rijeka, Croatia on May 26, 2021. An Expedia Group survey found that travelers want to explore new destinations, and the majority value sustainability over mere price considerations. Drugo More / Flickr.com