The future of the digital travel industry looks promising despite the impact of COVID-19: new yStats.com report
The latest publication from Germany-based market research company yStats.com, “Global Online Travel Market 2021” gives insights into the current state and trends of the digital travel industry. The publication reveals that global consumers are willing to travel in 2021 and use digital channels to do so, which is reflected in the number of visits of OTAs, and intention to spend more on trips in the near future.
COVID-19 impact on the online travel market
The online travel market, on par with the whole travel industry, was largely affected by the restrictions imposed worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the downturn continued in 2021, as only a few countries weakened the imposed movement restrictions a year after the onset. Nevertheless, there are also some signs of recovery, as three out of five travelers worldwide planned to spend more on a trip in 2021 since they could not travel in 2020. Moreover, despite a substantial fall in travel-related apps usage last year, the future looks brighter: it is forecasted to increase again, and for some categories even outpace the pre-pandemic levels.
Leading OTAs in the world
Globally, in the ranking of most visited websites in the travel category, Booking.com was still the leader in 2021, followed by Tripadvisor, and Airbnb. This distribution changed little as compared to pre-pandemic times. Moreover, Booking.com and Airbnb also were the leading websites in the category “accommodation and hotels” worldwide. Nevertheless, some global travel websites were deeply affected by the pandemic and saw their comparative positions drop in the rankings, according to the findings of the yStats.com report.
Online travel sales and booking methods vary worldwide
In Asia-Pacific, Singapore was the leading country in the region in per capita online travel sales in 2020 and was forecasted to remain a leader through 2025. Moreover, as COVID-19 restrictions ease, overall per capita digital travel expenditures were expected to rise in Hong Kong and China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea by mid-decade. In the U.S., online travel sales value in 2020 turned out to be just half of the figure projected for 2020 before the health crisis and the gross bookings value of online travel agencies in the country fell sharply as well. In Europe, together with OTAs, direct online bookings still play an important role, as about one-third of hotel stays booked in 2020 were made online directly. The share was smaller for select Latin American countries, and the OTAs’ contribution to bookings was less, as compared to Europe. In the Middle East, when it comes to arranging accommodation for holidays, the share of direct bookings on official hotel websites was comparable to the share done on OTAs, according to figures in the new yStats.com publication.
BNPL may play an important role in the digital travel industry’s recovery
According to the findings of the yStats.com report, four-fifth of tourists worldwide claimed that technology would accelerate their confidence in traveling, and two-fifths of them stated that the availability of contactless payments, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo, would allow them to travel more confidently. Moreover, in 2020, due to economic disruptions resulting from COVID-19, the usage of Buy Now Pay Later option accelerated. According to a 2020 international survey cited by yStats.com in the new report, a double-digit share of respondents said that the availability of a BNPL option was an important factor when booking a service related to a trip.