This grinding halt touched every element of the market. In the airline industry alone, the fall in passenger numbers has resulted in global revenue loss in excess of $63 billion. However, with travel restarting in regions like China, consumer confidence is beginning to grow.
To better understand consumer sentiment around travel during the COVID-19 crisis, Google has been conducting travel intent surveys across the world. Paired with insightful data from a recent Global Web Index (GWI) study, Google findings highlight emerging trends that travel companies should consider as we all navigate the road ahead.
Consumer sentiment around travel is shifting
According to the research, some markets in APAC are expressing interest in future domestic travel. In Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam, more than 25% of respondents expressed plans to travel domestically in the next three months, compared with countries like Australia and Japan, where less than 14% of them plan to do so.
Survey question: When are you next planning to travel domestically for a holiday?
This differing sentiment is also reflected in future international travel plans: Respondents in Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam have indicated they are 1.5X more likely than those in Australia, Singapore, and Japan to travel internationally in the next 6 months.
Travel is a priority for most consumers post-lockdown
According to the GWI study, booking a vacation is the top priority for nearly all surveyed markets with the exception of India, where buying consumer goods such as clothes and personal electronics has greater appeal. This sentiment is reflected around the world, with 45% of people who delayed a vacation due to COVID-19 planning to prioritize booking a vacation or trip after the pandemic ends.
Consumer research has also highlighted some interesting age patterns: The older the consumer, the more likely they are to prioritize booking a vacation. While 29% of baby boomers prioritize booking a vacation, Gen Zers are more inclined to focus on clothing (25%) and smartphones (20%).
People in APAC expect to change the way they travel
With consumer behaviors and expectations changing rapidly, travel companies need to adjust their strategies to meet consumers’ needs in meaningful ways. In addition to revealing how people currently feel about travelling, our research also uncovered three key ways for travel companies to approach their marketing efforts based on consumer insights.
1. Prioritize safety and cleanliness
Survey question: Which of the following would make you most likely to book a hotel in the next three months?
One important contributor to this feeling of safety is assurance of higher cleaning standards. On average, 25% of all people looking to travel in the next three months mentioned "hospital-grade cleaning" as a key driver for making a hotel booking.
2. Promote discounts and flexibility
Survey question: Which of the following would make you most likely to book a flight in the next three months?
But just because APAC consumers want discounts doesn’t necessarily mean they’re looking for cheap places to travel. While 25% of respondents indicated plans to make more use of promotions, only 15% claimed they were looking for cheaper vacations in the future. This indicates people are looking for more premium travel experiences that are still within their budgets.
3. Consider consumers’ short-term preferences
Survey question: If you were to travel in the next three months, where would you most likely travel to?
In addition to short-haul domestic travel, outdoor destinations are more appealing to people around the world: More than 50% of all survey respondents said they would travel to a beach or other natural destinations if they were to book travel in the next 3 months.
Planning a path to recovery
As sentiment around travel begins to change, travel marketers need to stay agile to meet consumers’ needs in meaningful ways. By listening to people and reaching them with relevant information during this difficult time, travel companies can earn their trust and put themselves on the road to recovery.
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