Capturing Road Trip & Domestic Demand in North America

With COVID-19 vaccine distribution ramping up, travelers are looking ahead to spring and summer travel, and many are continuing to choose car travel as their preferred mode of transportation. A recent Expedia Group trends report found that in 2020, 30 percent of American travelers opted to drive over other methods of transportation. Car travel is here to stay for the foreseeable future, as road trips continue to eclipse air travel and other transportation methods.

Road trips are on the rise

Insights from our recent traveler sentiment study further highlights the car travel trend. The research found that around the world travelers consider driving their own car or a rental car safer than other modes of transportation for a trip in April to September 2021. Sixty percent of North American travelers took, or would be willing to take, a road trip during the pandemic.

Many travelers are willing to go the distance

U.S. travelers would be willing to drive up to 8.6 hours for a leisure trip during the pandemic – with older Americans willing to take longer drives: 13.1 hours for the Silent Generation (born between 1928-1945) and 10.6 hours for Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Canadians are willing to drive closer to 7 hours for a leisure trip, with its younger Generation Z (1995-2010) travelers slightly eclipsing the national average at 7.3 hours.  

A timely opportunity to target domestic travelers

As of March this year, Expedia Group data shows that the 0-21 day window accounted for 50 percent of global travel searches, followed by the 31-60 day window at 15 percent. On Expedia Group sites in the U.S. and Canada, domestic searches continue to outpace international searches, with some slight variances by country. In the U.S., 80 percent of searches were domestic, while in Canada domestic accounted for 65 percent of searches. This first-party data, along with insights from our custom research, indicates that destination marketers and rental car companies in North America have a timely opportunity to target domestic travelers who may be planning to hit the road for an upcoming getaway. And with travelers willing to take longer road trips, the geographic parameters for drive-market campaigns are expanding – meaning potential audiences are also growing. The key is to ensure messaging and imagery resonate with what North American travelers need to be reassured to book.

Trending road trip destinations

We can access and share exclusive Expedia Group insights into trending destinations, competitive sets, and other in-market data to help inform marketing strategies for our advertising partners. As we all know, traveler behaviors have and continue to be impacted by the pandemic. For example, Vrbo found that 63 percent of families across the globe prefer outdoorsy destinations over urban settings, and 60 percent want to travel to a new destination, rather than one they’ve been to before. We tapped into our Vrbo vacation rental demand data comparing the first half of 2020 vs 2021 as of December 2020 and found the following ranked as top drivable destinations for the U.S. and Canada.

Top drivable destinations in the U.S.

  • Broken Bow, OK
  • Boone, NC
  • Naples, FL
  • Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, TN
  • Miramar & Rosemary Beach, FL

Top drivable destinations in Canada

  • East Kootenay, BC
  • Whistler, BC
  • Canmore, BC
  • Victoria, BC
  • Laurentians, Quebec

Capture demand as travelers hit the road

As road trip season ramps up for spring and summer travel, and travelers prepare for a much-awaited vacation, now is the time for rental car companies and destinations to review their marketing strategies and take action to capture demand.

The latest global Expedia Group data indicates demand for travel is returning. This upswing in travel is an opportunity for destination marketing organizations to begin recovering and rebuilding. Register for our webinar on reigniting demand to destinations to learn more.

Destination Recovery Webinar

Derek Price

Director, Business Development, Expedia Group Media Solutions

As a director of business development for North America at Expedia Group Media Solutions, Derek Price drives business development with his team, and delivers creative and innovative digital media campaigns for partners on the network of leading travel brands across Expedia Group. Derek and his team work closely with travel and non-travel U.S. marketers as well as international destinations with U.S. representation. With more than 20 years in the travel industry, Derek has previously held roles from market management to media sales at online travel agencies (OTAs) and travel marketing companies, including Travelocity, Orbitz and Sojern. When not traveling with his team to meet with partners, Derek splits his time between New York City and Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

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