How the pandemic impacted travellers around the world?

Expedia Group Media Solutions conducted a study with Northstar Research Partners to understand how the pandemic has impacted the hearts and minds of travellers around the world in 2020 and looking ahead to 2021. The study used a group of best-in-class panels in October 2020 with 11,000 travellers across 11 countries. The study looked at leisure, business, and bleisure travel (extending a business trip for leisure). The respondents represent a variety of generations for a broad understanding of what travellers consider when making destination, transportation, and/or accommodation related trip decisions.

The generations include:

  • Silent generation (born prior to 1946)
  • Baby boomers (1946 – 1964)
  • Generation X (1965 – 1979)
  • Millennial (1980 – 1994)
  • Generation Z (1995 – 2001)

The results of the study show that 6 in 10 travellers globally had a planned trip cancelled due to Covid-19. However, 1 in 2 travellers feel optimistic about taking a trip in the next 12 months, the other half need reassurance. Younger generations have a more positive outlook about travelling, uncertainty increase with age. Travellers are more likely to take trips from April to September 2021. There are significant variances by region, for instance Latin American and Asia Pacific travellers are planning on travelling sooner, but North American and European, Middle Eastern and African traveller intent to travel in third quarter of 2021.

Millennials took more leisure trips than other generations during the pandemic. The Silent Generation travelled to see family and friends far more than other generations.

Flexibility in importance

7 in 10 will feel more confident travelling in the next 12 months with flexibility – such as travel insurance and trip protection, full cancellations, and refunds on transportation and accommodations. Health closely follows flexibility in importance, travellers are reassured by accommodations following guidelines on cleaning and hygiene.

Source: Expedia group

86% of travellers expect to make transportation decisions for future travel based on implemented pandemic measures, including:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Using masks
  • Contactless check-in
  • Physical distancing
  • Reduced capacity

Mask enforcement is a leading factor for travellers globally deciding on transportation for future travel. Flexibility and financial considerations closely follow importance along with cleanliness, hygiene, and distancing measures.


Car travel feels safer than other modes of transportation.  7 in 10 travellers are willing to drive up to 6 hours for a leisure trip during Covid-19. Travellers in many countries expect to return to air travel at nearly the same level as pre-pandemic. Globally, travellers would be more comfortable booking air travel if they had more room and empty space around their seat. Furthermore, 6 in 10 travellers would be most comfortable with air travel if social distancing measures are in place.


8 in 10 travellers expect to make accommodation decisions based on implemented pandemic measures, including:

  • Covid-19 hygiene protocols
  • Strict use and enforcement of masks
  • Reduced capacity
  • Contactless check in, room service and takeout

Proper hygiene protocols will likely inform future accommodation decisions, followed by flexibility and financial considerations.

→ Read the full research here