Travelers’ plans over the next six months have been massively impacted by the spread of COVID-19, but some still feel safe taking some form of a domestic trip, and most will look to travel should good news on the spread of the virus start to appear, according to a new survey from MMGY Travel Intelligence.
In partnership with U.S. Travel, travel and hospitality marketing agency MMGY Global conducted its TIPS Survey for March 27—Travel Intentions Pulse Survey—and published results from the 1,200 respondents. The survey, which went out to U.S. residents who have taken an overnight trip for either business or leisure in the past 12 months, found that COVID-19 has significantly impacted future travel planning.
According to MMGY’s survey, 39% of travelers say they will take a domestic leisure trip in the next six months, down from 82% before COVID-19 began to have its most significant impact. Expectations for business travel, which accounted for a smaller percentage of travel prior to COVID-19 at 40%, were also down to 26%.
The short-term future opportunity for travel advisors could be in domestic road trips—the survey found that travelers feel the safest in their personal cars (68%), even more than parks (40%), grocery stores (29%), and places of worship (17%).
Also in the survey, MMGY found that travelers over the next six months feel better about staying in a hotel or resort (3.14 on a 5-point scale) than they do attending a live concert (2.36 on that same scale), attending a live sporting event (2.34), or attending a live theater performance (2.30), though the majority still say they do not feel safe outside of their homes.
Taking a cruise (1.93) and taking an international business trip (1.85) were the two lowest on the scale.
Not surprisingly, the biggest factor for travelers to feel more comfortable taking a leisure trip will be the slowdown of COVID-19 worldwide (63% said so) and the slowdown of COVID-19 in the U.S. (61%). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reducing its risk advisory levels would also play a factor (55%), as would the easing of domestic travel restrictions (46%).
Economic factors also played a part in decision making, with great travel deals (45%) and concerns for my job safety (32%) also ranking.
Opportunity for advisors
MMGY’s CEO Clayton Reid, in an earlier note previewing the results, said that MMGY expects recovery mindsets to start shifting 45 to 90 days after the peak coronavirus (COVID-19) infections. According to that timeline and MMGY research, there will be a pent-up demand for travel “unleashed in late Q2 across global economies.”
“Given the $2 trillion+ Congressional package in America and stimulus programs throughout Europe, suppliers will be in a more tenable situation to operate with less disruption,” Reid said.
“And we know that travel confidence leads-out consumer confidence, therefore will be a leading indicator for the economy. Expect shoots of good news to emerge first with airlines then hotels, restaurants and cruise lines.”
Also, Reid told TMR, travel advisors will play a major role in that recovery.
“As the travel industry fights to recover, third parties and travel agents will be increasingly important for travelers, both as a source of calm and information, but also as an important guide on rates and booking in what will be an increasingly competitive market. Agents will also play a key role in lifting the cruise industry as tens of thousands tell the story of cruising,” he said.