Travel experts have already started to speculate on how travel will change in the future. Once the threat of the coronavirus pandemic subsides, expectations of trust among travelers and travel providers will be greater than ever before. Alongside rising expectations, travelers are also open-minded to a new level of health and safety measures that might have once been considered extraordinary.
In a recent survey, our members revealed a range of support for a variety of new measures if it meant a return to leisure travel and business trips domestically and abroad.
Support For Screening, Testing & Tracing
Overwhelmingly, travelers of all demographics reported they are willing to subject themselves to screening and testing, as well as disclose certain medical conditions and even provide their 14-day travel history.
Coronavirus screening and testing has already made it past the consideration stage for some commercial airlines. In mid-April Emirates became the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers when it tested all air travelers on a flight from Dubai to Tunisia. The blood tests were conducted by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and produced results within 10 minutes. Emirates is reportedly planning to scale up testing capabilities to extend to other flights with passengers traveling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates.
In early April, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed an executive order requiring anyone entering the state through the Salt Lake City International Airport or major state highway entry points to complete an electronic declaration form or survey within three hours of entering the state, detailing travel history and health symptoms. Utah initially used its Wireless Emergency Alert system to alert travelers but pivoted to electronic message cards and airport postcards for notification in mid-April.
Disparity Among Traveler Willingness For Tracking
The greatest disparity is when travelers are asked if they would be willing to have their physical location tracked during a trip and temporarily retained. Not all travelers are as uniformly in support of the measure.
Only 35% of travelers age 65 and older said they would not be willing to have their physical location tracked and retained while on a trip.
But among millennial (age 24-37) and Gen X travelers (age 38-56), 50% said they were not willing to have their location tracked and retained.
There’s no way to be certain if any of these new health and safety measures will become widespread, but travelers are absolutely open to new ways of keeping themselves and those around them safe as they plan to get back to traveling again.
In the same survey, our members reported they expect to begin making trips again no later than early fall. While 77% reported they expect to make a trip by the end of October, not all travelers are eager to get back on the road quickly – and they’re not all planning the same types of trips either.
When travelers do take their first trip, nearly 60% reported they’ll opt for domestic trips rather than international travel. Travel experts have already been pointing to domestic trips being the first to take off, especially within the airline industry. A recent piece in Travel+Leisure quoted aviation expert Henry Harteveldt, who said, “expect airlines to begin with flights out of their most important hubs and cities where public health conditions are best and demand is strongest.”
Wait & See or Book Again?
The coronavirus caused 70% of survey respondents to either postpone or forcibly cancel their trips. Not all travelers are keen to book another trip as soon as they can. Sixty-two percent of Boomer travelers reported they’d book another trip as soon as they felt safe to travel. Millennial travelers are opting to take a more wait-and-see approach, with 47% reporting they’ll save their money, even when asked if they’d book sooner for discounts and deals.
Gen X travelers are a little more in the middle in their decision, but tend to take a more Boomer approach to getting back to travel. Fifty-two percent said they will book another trip as soon as they feel safe to travel but 28% also said they’ll take a wait-and-see approach and save their money for now.
Destination Trips & Solo Travel
Nearly 40% of millennial travelers said their first leisure trip will most likely be a destination or a “bucket list” trip. Second to destination trips were solo trips, which 35% of millennial travelers reported they’ll take. Among those who were specific about the types of trips they’ll take, nearly all involved outdoor activities like climbing or trekking.
It’s easy to make the connection as to why outdoor activities might be something the travel industry sees gaining in popularity. With social distancing protocol in place, outdoor activities often involve wider open spaces with less opportunities to be confined in a highly populated area.
Leisure Travel To See Family & Friends
Leisure trips to see family and friends were much more popular among Gen X and Boomer travelers. About 30% said their first trips will be to see family and friends, while also reporting more outdoor-based activities like the younger millennial segment. From visiting national parts to opening family cottages and birdwatching, travel demand is high and our members have high expectations for getting back out there.
Survey results are based on 1,400 responses collected from Global Rescue members April 22-28, 2020.