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It Matters Who You Travel With: Expedia Finds Kiwis Crave A Helping Hand As They Make 2021 Travel Plans

May 5, 2021 – Today, Expedia launches its Travel Companions Report, which shows that despite travel gaining momentum across New Zealand and the Tasman, over half (59%) are still feeling stressed about the thought of booking international trips. Although Kiwis are looking forward to travelling again, a quarter have been so overwhelmed by planning their next trip, they have put off hitting “book” two to four times since the start of the pandemic and are estimating needing almost just over 8 hours to plan a trip.

Recognising that planning a trip in a post-lockdown phase can be daunting, Expedia, with its deep industry knowledge and expertise, is introducing new features to provide travellers reassurance and a helping hand as they plan their future trips, including:

  • Helpful tools: the new COVID-19 Travel Advisory tool helps travellers search for travel advisories around the world, including regulations for destinations, and safety and health guidelines.
  • Improved support: new Virtual Agent capabilities allow many travellers to view their bookings, check their refund status, ask about hotel amenities or cancel/amend parts of their trips with ease.
  • Extra perks: customers will receive more Expedia Rewards points on app bookings, which can be redeemed on future trips. Plus, premium Expedia Rewards customers booking VIP Access hotels can benefit from room upgrades, spa credits and late check out (subject to availability).

It’s going to take time for travellers to adjust to a post-pandemic life and the new norms that this may entail – we want to make sure we are there for them, every step of the way. Providing a helping hand to travellers is our mission, arming them with all the information they need to confidently plan their next trip. We're on a multi-year journey to becoming a travel company that is obsessed with our travellers, understanding their wants and needs,” said Nisreene Atassi, Sr. Director and Global Head of Communications for Expedia Brand. “Planning a trip shouldn’t be stressful and by promising our unwavering commitment and support, travellers can focus on getting the most out of their holidays once again.”

Kiwis’ thoughts on returning to travel

When it comes to exploring the world again, travellers noted the following top priorities:

  • Almost half say it’s important they have access to information about COVID-19 related travel requirements, including vaccinations and testing (45%)
  • 44% say it’s important they can make changes to their booking easily
  • Having all final costs of their booking shown upfront rather than at checkout (39%)
  • It’s important to have all travel-related information including restrictions, guidelines and processes for each country all in a single place (39%)
  • Interestingly now, more than ever, Kiwis say they’re looking for inspiration on where to go when it’s safe (27%).

In-trip, reducing stress and anxiety is also just as important. Some of the ways travellers typically combat anxiety, include:

· Listening to music (64%)

· Watching a series or movie (48%)

· Reading (36%)

· Asking for a helping hand from a fellow traveller (31%)

· Holding someone’s hand (26%)

Most missed travel companions 

Today, it is clear the thirst for travel is real, but support is more important than ever before. Most Kiwis (74%) agree that, even before the pandemic, they were grateful for their holiday “helping hands” – the travel companions that guided them to create the best trip possible. When asked which helping hands they missed most, respondents ranked their go-to travel app the highest, followed by their travel agency, hotel staff and their tour guide.

It’s clear from our Travel Companions Report that people put an immense value on feeling taken care of and supported during their journeys and there are so many people in the travel industry that contribute to a traveller’s experience” says Atassi. “At Expedia, we take our role in a traveller’s trip very seriously and are committed to having our customer’s backs.”

Returning to travel

Looking ahead, domestic is still a key focus for most New Zealanders, with a third (33%) planning to travel domestically for at least another year. Expedia lodging data indicates Queenstown, Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Christchurch are the most sought-after*.

However, with the opening of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble, data shows there is strong appetite and eagerness among Kiwis to cross the ditch, with searches on for Australia destinations surging by almost 460% following the announcement on April 6, 2021, compared to the previous week**. The top Kiwi destinations on Kiwis’ agenda include Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast^.

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