In late April and early May of this year, Oliver Wyman conducted a survey of travelers across nine countries (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, China, and Australia) to capture how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting attitudes and opinions on travel. This was the first of three planned surveys that will chart how travelers’ views change as the pandemic — and responses to it — evolve.
Our “Edition 1” survey involved nearly 4,600 people, all of whom had flown at least once in 2019. Half are airline loyalty members, and 10 percent of all respondents hold elite status with at least one airline.
1The intent to travel remains strong
Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents expect to travel the same or more once the pandemic ends
2Leisure Travel Post-Pandemic
A quarter of leisure travelers in the United States and Italy expect to travel more post-pandemic, but about 60 percent in China and Spain expect to travel less.
3Business Travel Post-Pandemic
More than 70 percent that travel for business by air expect to travel the same or more than planned post pandemic. Changes in corporate travel policies and budgets, however, may be the deciding factor in how much of business travel resumes.
More than half of the travelers we surveyed are primed to be on the move once restrictions are lifted or the World Health Organization gives the “all clear” (Exhibit 1). About 17 percent are holding out for acquired immunity or a vaccine. Only a third each ranked lifted lockdown orders, a vaccine, or declining virus rates internationally as a top-three reason to wait on travel.
When the outbreak ends, even if other countries have lifted travel restrictions, most travelers expect their first trip to be domestic, with 41 percent simply following up on plans made before the pandemic hit.
Across geographies, travelers in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada are the most eager for an international leisure trip (Exhibit 2). In the United States, China, and Italy, a majority plan to stay in-country and visit an urban destination instead.
While the results of the traveler sentiment survey were more positive than expected, there are several decision factors and choices which will affect the industry's recovery from COVID-19.
Cleanliness unsurprisingly ranks as most important and could offer an opportunity for differentiation; large travel brands in particular could capitalize on their ability to standardize processes and quality control, and even to be seen as innovative in this area.
Post-pandemic, survey respondents in most countries expect that price will continue to be the top factor impacting flight purchase decisions, followed by how travelers were treated by airlines during the pandemic, and stated aircraft cleaning policies.
In terms of post-pandemic lodging decisions, 83 percent of travelers are just as likely or more likely to stay at a large hotel, compared to 57 percent for home rentals (such as Airbnb). Just like airlines and airports, hotels must plan on customer and staff protection measures to benefit from the recovery.
Our full report offers an in-depth and detailed analysis on how travelers’ views change as the pandemic develops. As countries open back up, we will be launching Edition 2 of the survey. The next survey will enable us to gauge the pace at which traveler sentiments are shifting and the potential longerterm, structural impacts that may result from the pandemic.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
The survey was conducted between April 24 and May 10, 2020 and involved nearly 4,600 total respondents across nine countries (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, and China.)
The report covers a detailed analysis of the following areas:
- Post-pandemic travel planning
- Reigniting travel demand
- Leisure travel post-COVID-19
- Business travel
- Travel restrictions, domestic and international trips
- Changing travel preferences and travel patterns
- Air travel decision factors, airline cleaning policies
- Hospitality, large hotels and home rentals
- Travel and tourism recovery from COVID-19 pandemic