Report: Trends That Will Define Travel in 2021

Family Travel Closer to Nature, and in Unique Accommodation Formats Will Define 2021, reveals latest Airbnb & YouGov Survey

77% prefer travel that is off the beaten track and authentic, and 44% prefer to travel to be close to nature

57% of travelers hope to connect with family and friends when they travel after the pandemic

57% of Indians have plans to travel or expect to travel in 2021, indicating that trust in travel is on its way to recovery

Airbnb today released a report on new travel trends for 2021 which shows Indian travellers are looking to reconnect with friends and loved ones and enjoy safe, unique experiences off-the-beaten track. Health and safety continue to be key priorities, and this is increasingly reflected in traveler choices as well.

Based on a survey from YouGov, here are the top travel trends in India for 2021:

Travel will come back to connect people in 2021

  • From March 2020, Indians experienced a long period of disconnect given the impact of the lockdown, many staying in their cities and homes for ten months or more
  • As travel returns in 2021, it is firmly in the direction of connecting with loved ones through personal trips with family and friends. Other recent research conducted for Airbnb suggests that family travel is the type of travel communities most want. 
  • 57% of respondents across age groups said that they would choose to connect with their immediate family members as soon as travel is back in 2021. This was reflected in traveler groups who are most likely to travel after the pandemic as well, including GenX and Millennials.
  • 50% of Millennials said they would travel with, or to see, friends and family, suggesting new opportunities for hosting across the country that could emerge in 2021.

Hosted travel will be the key trend to look out for

  • 85% would like to stay in unique accommodations when they travel next  (formats such as heritage homes, havelis, farm stays and villas), exploring new destinations and places recommended by local hosts, family or friends. 
  • GenX (89%) and Millennials (86%), who comprise a large pool of current and future travelers, are leading this trend. 39% of Millennials stated a firm intent to travel in 2021.

Local recommendations and social media will inspire travel

  • The trend of hosted travel and local recommendations will also be fueled by Millennials. 63% of that demographic are open to sharing their unique stays and experiences on social media to inspire travel amongst their peers. 
  • 66% of respondents across age groups said they love taking pictures to share on family and friends groups

A home in the hills or a cottage overlooking the beach? Travelers are seeking solace in nature

  • Travelers are looking for exclusive and secluded holidays in the lap of nature. While the vaccine continues to be an encouraging factor propelling growth for industries including travel and tourism, 50% of would-be travelers find nature travel more meaningful, and continue to use nature holidays to relax and recharge, compared with urban spaces. This perpetuates a trend towards slower, sustainable and more regenerative travel. 
  • 24% of travelers would also look to travel to a place in the hills. Destinations like Manali, Mussoorie, Nainital, Ooty, Munnar, Coorg, and Kashmir are highly sought-after by travelers.
  • 53% of GenZ and GenX respondents want to travel to any place close to nature, followed by Millennials at 44%.

Health and safety emerge as top priority

  • 59% of respondents overall considered this a key priority, with the number understandably increasing for respondents that are 40 and above. 
  • Reinstating trust will help travel play a larger role in the recovery of communities across India. Stringent compliance with local regulations and enhanced measures such as the Enhanced Cleaning Protocol for local hosts will all drive up confidence to travel.

Travel is increasingly sustainable

  • Finally, travelers are growing conscious of enabling sustainable travel through socio-cultural experiences that are authentic and embedded in communities, and through making environmentally friendly choices when they travel. 
  • An overwhelming 94% of respondents would look at sustainable travel when they do leave their homes in 2021. 
  • This comes out strongly amidst the backdrop of the pandemic, with Indians becoming more aware of their impact on the environment and wanting to give back to local communities. 
  • Sustainable travel choices that are closer to remote communities and nature not only provide a boost to these communities and their members – redistributing the economic impact of travel – but are accessible and affordable and are a transformative choice contributing to unique and individual travel experiences. 

Commenting on these trends, Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Manager – Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said, “After a year of sacrifice and hardship where so many were kept apart for so long, 2021 offers many the chance to reconnect with friends and loved ones. We will also see the continued growth of restorative, inclusive and sustainable travel throughout India. Travelers are looking at more meaningful experiences, prizing personal connection and valued time with friends and family. Holidays in the hills and other natural settings are also helping travelers re-connect with the environment as a medium to rest and recharge. This is a model of travel that Airbnb has always supported – travel as a way of fostering meaningful connections and regenerating communities.”