MMGY Global released the third edition of its Travel Intentions Pulse Survey (TIPS), created in partnership with U.S. Travel, on Friday, which gauges the impact of COVID-19 across travel segments, and found some encouraging trends for travel advisors.
The survey took the temperature of consumers who are heavily likely to travel. Most of the 1,200 U.S. travelers surveyed (90%) had travel or events planned or confirmed prior to COVID-19, whether it was a hotel or resort reservation, flight, cruise, or business meeting—and had some good data points for advisors.
“Travelers are returning to a more optimistic outlook about travel in the next six months,” MMGY said.
The first is that travelers are becoming more eager to travel, even if it may just be by car and closer to home. According to the survey, as of 4/24 the percentage of consumers who will be eager to travel for leisure after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed jumped to 59% from 52% on 4/11.
That increase is largely due to more people feeling comfortable traveling more for vacation by car (47% from 35% on 4/11) and selecting destinations closer to home (42% from 36% on 4/11).
The second is that increasingly eager travelers are saying that they are more likely now, as opposed to two weeks ago, to take a domestic leisure trip in the next six months—38% are now likely to take a leisure trip as opposed to 31% on 4/11. That number is now almost up at the same place it was on March 27 (39%).
Business travelers, on the other hand, are largely unchanged in their future travel habits. Just over one-fifth of business travelers (21%) said they will travel for a domestic business trip over the next six months, unchanged from 4/11 (21%).
In fact, the overall concern about contracting COVID-19, as the curve has started to flatten over the past two months, is starting to come down in all age groups—56%, from 59%, for the total; 61%, from 63%, for 18 to 34-year-olds; 55%, down from 60%, for 35 to 49-year-olds; 51%, down from 56%, for 50 to 64-year-olds; and 59%, down from 60%, for those 65-years and older.
Other interesting trends that the survey finds is that river cruises are now just as popular as ocean cruises (both at 12%) for travelers over the next six months, and river cruises are generally trending upwards (though only by 1%) as ocean cruises trending downward (again, only by 1%).
The survey also found some negatives for the short-term future, most notably that plans that were once postponed are now increasingly being canceled—66% of travelers said they are now canceling plans as opposed to 58% on 4/11.
“The most impacted are those that require longer-term planning and those that are more expensive such as vacations, flights, attending conferences, and sporting and theatrical plans.”
Unsurprisingly, the biggest factor in the return is still the slowdown of COVID-19 in the U.S. (45%) and the slowdown of the virus worldwide (44%). Travel deals, the survey found, are still low on the list when it comes to motivation, with 29% saying great travel deals would impact their plans.