Many Pent-up Americans Ready to Hit the Road Again for Fun and Work
Many consumers, perhaps suffering from cabin fever (no pun intended) after hunkering down in their homes for weeks during the coronavirus pandemic, are looking forwarding to getting back out on the road again. (Cue up Willie Nelson song here.)
In fact, 60 percent of Americans surveyed by global management consultant Oliver Wyman are looking forward to traveling again. Globally, 56 percent of the 4,600 travelers surveyed plan to travel the same or more once COVID-19 travel restrictions ease. And most want to travel by air.
Half of American survey respondents said they’re waiting for their government or the World Health Organization to indicate when it is safe to travel. Only 20 percent are holding out for acquired immunity or a vaccine before traveling.
“Though the timing of the return to travel is dependent on when government authorities deem it safe, the desire to travel is strong and comfort levels are surprisingly high,” said Jessica Stansbury, a partner with Oliver Wyman. “This pent-up demand for leisure travel will spark the initial recovery of the industry.”
Data from across Europe, China, Australia and Canada confirm reason for cautious optimism in the travel industry, according to Oliver Wyman. Travelers are tired of quarantine and are eager to make up for lost vacations, though most will now stay closer to home and away from crowded activities.
Please Prepare for Takeoff
Globally, travelers are significantly more comfortable flying than with any other mode of transport besides driving, according to the survey. U.S. travelers are more comfortable flying (51 percent) than doing any of the following: staying in a hotel (48 percent), dining in restaurants (46 percent), using rideshares (25 percent) or going on public transportation (23 percent). In the U.S., travelers between the age of 30-44 are more comfortable taking a flight than younger people (ages 18-29) and older people (ages 45+).
Respondents said that the airlines’ response to COVID-19 was the most important reason, after price, for choosing to fly in the future. In fact, almost 70 percent said that the airline response so far has been positive. This is especially true among elite travelers, with almost 80 percent feeling that their primary airlines’ response to COVID-19 was favorable.
In terms of hotels, globally, 64 percent said that improvements in health and cleaning of rooms and public spaces will significantly impact their decision to stay at a hotel. Almost 70 percent of travelers globally trust their primary hotel brand’s enhanced cleaning policies.
“There is no longer a middle ground when it comes to cleanliness, and this — combined with the customer experience — will be a key differentiator,” said Bruce Spear, a partner with Oliver Wyman. “Trusted brands define and can ensure a consistent standard, giving them an advantage moving forward. We expect the expansion of the sharing economy to slow as travelers favor brand name hotels or staying with friends and family as opposed to independents and private rentals.”
The survey found that 80 percent of global travelers prefer to stay at a large hotel compared to 57 percent for home rentals. For U.S. travelers, 83 percent would like to stay at a large hotel and 61 percent in home rentals..
Oliver Wyman also examined business travel trends and found a strong desire to return to business travel. About 75 percent of Americans who travel by air for business intend to travel the same or more when restrictions are lifted.
“While there will not be an immediate recovery and traveler preferences and expectations have likely shifted for good, we see a light at the end of the tunnel for the industry,” Stansbury said.
The survey was conducted between April 24 through May 10 with about 4,600 respondents across nine countries including: U.S., UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Australia and China.