Post-Pandemic Travel: Consumers Look for Variety and Adventure in Safe Circles

Post-Pandemic Travel: Consumers Look for Variety and Adventure in Safe Circles

Over the course of 2020 , our data revealed an internal tension between fear and desire. Consumers expressed a desire for adventure and variety. The other was closed borders, stay at-home mandates, fearful consumers, and a halt in the growth of the travel industry. Pandemic restrictions in the US have been lifted and consumers are now more open to adventure, while pandemic fears continue to shape a new type of travel behavior. Our recent Consumer Energy Index Online Survey, which was conducted in May 2021, and lessons learned from past pandemic recoveries show that the tug-of-war between surging wants and enduring fear will continue longer than the pandemic itself. We expect this to continue for the next 12-18 months.

  • Leisure travel recovery will be driven by wealthy families.A third of US adults online say that excitement is more important than anxiety when it comes to leisure travel. This is especially true for parents who are wealthy outside of cities: 43% of US adults with a household income of $100K or more are excited about the possibility of traveling for pleasure. Only 27% of households with a lower income than $50K agree, as do 40% of rural consumers, 37% of parents with children, and 37%. The people who feel most inspired by the idea of jet-setting are those who were frequent travelers prior to the pandemic. 46% of these consumers report that they spend the same amount of time now thinking about travel as they did in spring 2020. According to 21% of US consumers, they want to avoid booking flights and hotels in the future.
  • Travel rebound will be slowed if there is fear and lack of trust in vaccinations.Despite all the excitement surrounding pandemic restrictions lifting, 29% of US citizens say they won’t travel unless they have been fully vaccinated. 27% of Americans will only travel if absolutely necessary. The reason for their hesitation is skepticism about vaccine compliance, say consumers. One traveler stated, “My concern about getting the majority of people vaccinated is that it’s not about what hotel or airline companies do to keep me safe. Only 29% of Americans trust that the general population in the United States — whether they are located across the country or in nearby cities and states — will accurately report their vaccination status.”
  • The new travel experience will be shaped by balancing fears and desires.Consumers want to travel with their closest friends and family for leisure, as they trust them to assess vaccine compliance. A third of US consumers prefer to drive to their destinations than fly, and they prefer to travel domestically over internationally. This helps limit their exposure. Fears about hotel stays will be lessened than those of airline flights. 23% of travelers report that they plan to delay booking airline tickets until next year because they expect to feel more comfortable. Only 16% of hotel bookings are as positive.

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