Expedia report: Q3 global search volume remained steady

Expedia Group Media Solutions, the global travel advertising platform connecting marketers with hundreds of millions of travelers across the Expedia Group brand, has released its Q3 2021 Travel Recovery Trend Report. The quarterly report combines Expedia Group first-party data and custom research with actionable insights to help travel marketers on their continued road to recovery.

“While the travel industry experienced ups and downs throughout Q3, we continued to see positive trends and overall progress on the road to recovery,” said Jennifer Andre, global VP, Media Solutions. “The rise in business travel demand and double-digit year-over-year increases in holiday season travel searches are just two of the trends that signal growing traveler confidence and industry improvements. These insights, along with others in the Travel Recovery Trend Report, will help travel brands on their path to rebuilding.”

Key findings from the report:

Global search volume holding steady
Following a strong Q2, global search volumes remained consistent during Q3, with nominal change quarter-over-quarter. Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Latin America (LATAM) saw the strongest quarter-over-quarter change from Q2, with increases of 50% and 10% respectively, while Asia-Pacific (APAC) and North America (NORAM) saw modest decreases, which could be attributed to travel restrictions and the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in July and August. However, searches globally began to rise again in September, and when compared to Q3 2020 global search volumes, Q3 2021 delivered triple-digit growth year-over-year.

The week of Sept. 13 saw the largest increase in week-over-week global searches—up more than 5%—following border reopening announcements and travel easements across several regions. In APAC, the reopening of Singapore and Australia’s trial vaccine passport program with select countries resulted in a 10% increase in searches during the same week. During the week of Sept. 20, searches from EMEA to the U.S. increased 95% week-over-week, after the White House announced it would soon lift travel restrictions on international visitors who are vaccinated.

0-to-30-day search window is sweet spot
In Q3, nearly 70% of global searches fell within the 0-to-30-day search window, a 15% increase quarter-over-quarter. Global searches in the 31-to-90-day search window dropped slightly from 25% in Q2 to 20% in Q3. This shift in search windows indicates that travelers are reverting to planning trips for the near future, compared to the lengthening search windows reported in Q2 2021.

EMEA saw the largest lift for the 0-to-30-day search window, up more than 30% quarter-over-quarter, while NORAM and APAC were largely flat for the same search window quarter-over-quarter.

Cities growing fast
Globally, Q3 saw a lot of movement in the top 10 booked destinations compared to Q2, with more international destinations making up the top 10 list in each region of the world. Notably, New York topped the list for both global bookings and NORAM bookings, and was also a top 10 destination in APAC, EMEA and LATAM. Other new destinations appearing on this list in Q3 include Boston and Denver for NORAM travelers; New York; Sapporo, Japan; and London for APAC bookers; Berlin and Edinburgh, Scotland for those in EMEA; and Sao Paulo, Paris and Los Angeles for customers in LATAM.

At the regional level, Q3 delivered a more diverse mix of destinations across each region. While most of the top 10 booked destinations were for destinations within the same region, APAC and LATAM each had top destinations spanning three different regions.

Cities such as Dubai, Paris, London and Istanbul moved up the rankings quickly and entered the top 10 for September bookings. Dubai had a particularly strong showing—the destination jumped from the 33rd position in July to the 10th position in September, while Paris moved from 22nd to fifth during the same time period.

Holiday season head start
Travelers are eager to make up for the time lost with family and friends during the 2020 holiday season, including Thanksgiving (U.S.), Christmas and New Year’s, and are planning early to make the most of the 2021 holidays. Compared to the same period in 2020, Q3 searches for trips starting in November and December saw triple-digit growth, with NORAM and EMEA leading the surge, while LATAM saw double-digit growth.

In line with the search trends, Q3 room night demand for trips in November and December also saw triple-digit growth across most regions, and the global ADR increased by approximately 25% on average year-over-year.

Demand for Vrbo vacation rentals in December is up more than 15% from 2019, with many travelers planning their holiday trips even earlier than in prior years. Travelers are also booking longer stays this holiday season—nearly half of Vrbo bookings in December are for at least seven nights. This data further illustrates travelers’ desire to escape their surroundings and spend extended time away with family and friends, resulting in a timely opportunity for lodging providers to drive demand this holiday season.

Business travel building momentum
With business returning to normal in some parts of the world, including a rise in employees returning to the office and in-person events, business travel is starting to take off. Egencia data shows that, globally, business travel demand in Q3 was up more than 40% quarter-over-quarter and up more than 110% compared to Q3 2020. During Q3, Paris, Chicago, London and New York were the top booked destinations for business travelers globally.

In NORAM, Q3 business travel demand was up more than 40% compared to Q2, and up 200% year-over-year. EMEA business travel demand in Q3 was up 50% quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, and in APAC, business travel demand was up nearly 50% year-over-year.