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Expanding our circle of exploration: Navigating the what, where and when

Written by: Abbe McCabe, Director of Experiences
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At BI WORLDWIDE, we recognise the importance of inspiring dreams through extrinsic rewards – including travel and experiences. While our world stood still this past year, people never stopped dreaming. And dreamers are motivated.

So, what's next? What trends can we expect over the year ahead as those dreamed about trips and experiences can finally be planned?

There's no doubt our lives have been disrupted in many ways, including not only if but when we book travel and holidays. Because of the need to rely on the latest health updates, border restrictions and location-based information, the timeline of figuring out where you want to go, how you will get there, where you will stay and what you will do has been condensed as more and more people make last-minute travel decisions.


Expedia surveyed 11,000 travellers across 11 countries to understand the impact of the pandemic on travel in 2020 and what is driving intent to travel in 2021. Their research shows travellers are searching a 0–21-day window for advance booking. This is consistent with BI WORLDWIDE's Experiences Marketplace users who are booking flights and accommodations on an average of 33 days in advance and experiences 21 days in advance.

In reviewing BIW's Experiences Marketplace bookings from January 2021, 49% of travel was booked that same month. This increased in February 2021; 86% of travel that took place was booked in 2021.

Travel decisions are being made quickly, and most likely based on a variety of factors, one being increased vaccine distribution worldwide. According to TripAdvisor's 2021 Travel Trends Report, vaccine distribution has the potential to be a game-changer for traveller confidence. Their research found 77% of global respondents are more likely to travel internationally once they receive their vaccine. That number increases to 86% for domestic travel. Expedia's research found that travellers were more likely to take trips from April to September 2021.

The graphic below reflects how we see people expanding their circle of exploration at their own pace and comfort level to explore locally, plan a road trip, take to the skies or adventure abroad. Currently, 7 in 10 travellers feel comfortable taking a road trip.

Circle of exploration-globe.png

Explore locally - Be a tourist for a day in your home city with local experiences like kayaking, amusement park tickets, a themed walking tour or skip-the-line zoo passes. Add a hotel or vacation rental to make a weekend out of it!

Plan a road trip - 7 in 10 travellers are willing to drive up to 6 hours for a leisure trip during COVID-19*. Rent a car (or use your own) and find things to do along the way. With over 22 categories of experiences to choose from, no two routes will be the same.

Take to the skies - Book that trip you've been waiting to take to visit loved ones, explore a new city or enjoy a change of scenery without leaving the country. No plan? No problem! Our research shows last minute travel is a popular trend, with most travellers booking less than 21 days in advance.

Adventure abroad - With 150 international air carriers, 550,000 accommodation properties, 232,000 experiences and rental cars available in 100 countries, the options are endless.

*Expedia Media Solutions 2021


Looking ahead, we anticipate the trend of last-minute travel will continue and that we'll likely even see an increase in bookings overall as individuals plan the trips they have been dreaming about for the past year. Expedia found that while many of their site visitors had to change or cancel travel plans in 2020, they consistently dreamed at high levels about future travel.

Circle of exploration_Expedia graph.jpg


At BI WORLDWIDE, we recognise the importance of inspiring dreams through extrinsic rewards – including travel and experiences. While our world stood still over the past year, people never stopped dreaming. And dreamers are motivated. Our circles will continue to get bigger again. When they do, make sure you offer experiences to fit every dream, destination and comfort level.

Abbe McCabe

Director of Experiences

Abbe McCabe is BI WORLDWIDE's Director of Experiences. Abbe has served in several roles at BIW, giving her extensive insights into how to inspire program participants. As an Account Manager, Abbe managed events for a diverse client base, including telecommunications, technology and automotive industries. Abbe also served as Design Director for Event Technology, spending four years overseeing Event Technology solutions. She was responsible for research, development and implementation of industry technology to align with the event’s goals and objectives. In her current role, Abbe is responsible for BIW's Experiences Marketplace. She is developing and leading the way in conversations around experiences that inspire our customer’s participants!

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