A study conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy and marketing consulting firm, revealed that many travel styles and preferences will likely shift dramatically in the post pandemic months to come.
Titled, The Future of Travel, the study surveyed more than 3,600 consumers across Europe and the US and discovered structural changes in consumer behavior that will pose significant challenges to the tourism industry. While 30 percent of survey respondents said they will travel as soon as they are allowed to, 40 percent said they will only travel once they are certain that travel providers have taken appropriate measures with regards to things like health screenings and social distancing measures.
Overall, 32 percent of consumers say they expect to go on more domestic trips following the global pandemic, and 52 percent expect they will book more last minute. Significant numbers that force the industry to adjust their offers.
When it comes to traveling internationally, 54 percent of respondents say they will take fewer trips. However, the cruise industry will be hit hardest of all, with 62 percent of travelers saying they expect to take less cruises. More local trips will likely see a boost, as 38 percent of travelers say they will use their car more frequently for travel. Some 58 percent of those surveyed said they are not planning to travel internationally.
“The US has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and the situation is quite fluid in development with many states showing diverging trajectories. In addition, there is no clear timeline for the travel restrictions,” said Wei Ke, a partner at Simon-Kucher. “But this can be more encouraging for domestic-focused businesses like theme and holiday parks, which can use the sentiment to their advantage and gain new customers who had not previously tried domestic proposition.”
When considering traveling in a post-coronavirus lockdown world, 80 percent of respondents say that booking flexibility will be of utmost importance to them, knowing that they have money-back guarantees should they need to cancel their trip. Even more so, 82 percent say they will consider the hygiene/cleanliness measures taken when deciding on their next travel provider. Things like customer loyalty programs, offers and incentives, and customer friendliness during the pandemic will matter significantly less.
“Consumer priorities are clearly on health and money. Consumers want to feel ‘confident’ that the appropriate health measures are taken to minimize risk of infection before they travel, while at the same time they want to have considerable booking flexibility and guarantee that their money is safe, as the resurgent crisis creates uncertainty on when and how it is safe to travel again. As such, travel players need to focus on providing the health reassurance through their operations, and the booking flexibility by redefining their products and offering to the consumer,” added Dimitris Hiotis, also a partner at Simon-Kucher, and Head of the Leisure, Tourism and Transportation.
In similar fashion, day-to-day transportation will also see a shift – 55 percent of survey respondents indicate that they will rely less on public transportation, and 40 percent said they will use private transportation more frequently.
The Future of Travel online survey was conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners between May 20th and June 3rd, 2020 with 3,650 consumers across the US, the UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. The study focused on changes in consumer trends in the leisure, tourism and travel industries due to the coronavirus pandemic.