How outdoor activities are leading the recovery of the travel industry

Written by Alexandra Kahr, Head of Communications at Stay22, with the data collected by Stay22 and its solution

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It’s no secret that COVID-19 had a nasty impact on the travel industry and that as a result, it now has a long road to recovery ahead. Experts say that it may take years for it to return to what it was in 2019, but that doesn’t mean that parts of the industry haven’t already begun to experience important symptoms of recovery. Whilst large international events that attract big crowds, such as the Olympics, may have to hold their breath for a little longer, outdoor activity-based travel is leading the recovery of the travel industry.

It’s true that in this pandemic world, not all travel segments are equal in their recovery speed. However, we may learn a lot about our industry by paying attention to how this recovery unravels.

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How has outdoor activity-based travel shown signs of recovery?

With over 18M monthly users on its interactive maps, Stay22 has been able to identify from its data a persistent trend showing significant growth in favor of activity-based travel compared to other segments.

How have we been able to track this data?

Well for starters let’s explain what we mean when we say outdoor activity-based travel: we count activity-based travel as any type of travel where the main purpose is to take part in activities from the outdoors; such as hiking, rock climbing, camping, bike trails…etc.

How did we segment our data?

To track this we took a sample from our top 25 partners who belong to the outdoor activity-based segment and compared their average to the rest of our partners. We pulled the data from several metrics in April, which was the lowest point for the travel industry during COVID-19, and in June, which was when the first signs of recovery started.

Here is what we’ve gathered from this data:

  • People’s interest in outdoor activity-based travel (OABT) is significantly higher than any other segment. The OABT sample has seen a 70% increase in views compared to the rest which has only experienced a 20% increase from April till June. However, the interest for OABT goes beyond just views, the rate of interactions is even higher, with an 83% increase compared to other segments that have only seen a 29%.

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  • The ratio of clicks to bookings for OABT is more than double of other travel segments. For OABT the ratio is currently at 14.6% whereas the rest of travel segments have a 5.6% ratio proving that the desire for travel to events is still there, it’s just shifted towards outdoor activities.

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Does the shift towards outdoor activities also affect the type of accommodation travelers prefer?

From our data we’ve noticed that when it comes to OABT there seems to be a strong preference for Airbnb’s:

  • For OABT the ratio of bookings Airbnb vs hotels is at 80% vs 20%. Which is drastically more polarized than the rest of the travel segments where 42% of bookings are for Airbnb’s and the remaining 58% go to hotels.

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  • There’s not only a difference in the type of accommodation between OABT and other segments of travel but also the length of stay (LOS). When people book their stay for outdoor activities they stay an average of 4 nights whereas the average stay for other forms of travel tends to be 3 nights.

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Why is OABT recovering faster than other travel segments?

Our data lets us know how our users act not why they do it, however, we have a few important hypotheses as to why OABT is recovering the way it is:

  • The lockdown: Being at home for an extended period has most likely influenced the decision to find activities that aren’t just outdoors, but also in nature and far away from cities.

  • Avoiding crowds: Despite countries opening up again, social distancing is still on the top of the mind of people. This is probably why most of them want to be in an outdoor setting where they can enjoy activities and socialize without having to worry about crowds.

  • Why Airbnb’s: Airbnb’s tend to give more lifestyle flexibility by offering additional amenities such as kitchens which are a plus for people who want to meal prep for a hike or cook. Plus it might also be easier to find Airbnb’s close to the destination of outdoor activities whereas hotels might be more limiting.


Consumers have changed the way they travel and will continue to do so, we’ve previously covered this topic in other articles. This period of recovery within the travel industry is a great opportunity for all of us who belong to it, to get to know our consumers all over again. It’s not just about returning to what the industry used to be, but rather to listen to the public and see how we can best evolve together.

This is a philosophy we are following as Stay22 by exploring partnerships centered on experiences and camping sites to offer a more diverse experience to our consumers.