New Study: Leisure travelers will return to the market (57% plan to travel in 2021), but the travel industry will have to be patient
The "Revenge Travel" trend and attractive offers could push the tourism industry forward again. However, travel behavior will change significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
[New York, New York], [February 4, 2021] The global Travel Trends 2021 study* conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy and marketing consulting firm, and ROIRocket, a leading provider of research services, revealed that a majority of leisure travelers (57 percent) plan to resume traveling in 2021, though most plan to wait until the second half of the year. The study, based on a representative sample of more than 3,900 individuals across five countries (France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States) also suggests that a crucial factor in travelers’ decisions on when to take their next trip depends on the COVID-19 vaccine: 15 percent of respondents want to travel once they are vaccinated, and 14 percent when a significant majority of the public is vaccinated.
Majority of international and US travelers will maintain pre-pandemic travel budgets
Study results show that 30 percent of international travelers will spend less on travel after the COVID-19 crisis, with this number spiking slightly to 34 percent when looking at US travelers only. More than 50 percent of travelers indicated that uncertainty around employment status and income is the primary reason for the cutbacks on spending, and 14 percent say they have taken up new activities instead.
An impressive 60 percent of respondents indicated they don’t expect any change from their pre-pandemic travel budgets – in the US alone, this number was slightly lower at 59 percent.
Dimitris Hiotis, Partner and Head of Leisure, Travel and Tourism Practice at Simon-Kucher, comments, “The pandemic has impacted the travel industry in an unprecedented way. Our insights suggest that 2021 will be the year that travel rebounds, especially in the second half of the year, with the majority of consumers wanting to travel and spend the same or even more than before the pandemic. My advice for travel and tourism companies at this point is to set out their commercial strategy and model to be agile enough to respond to the travel rebound as lockdowns are eased and a significant size of the population is inoculated.”
"Revenge Travelers" could give the industry a much-needed boost
The “revenge travel” trend is growing in popularity amongst travelers with pent-up demand who plan to increase their travel budgets post-pandemic. Across all consumers surveyed, approximately 10 percent currently fall into the revenge traveler segment. Of these travelers, 52 percent want to take one larger trip in 2021, while 48 percent plan shorter, more frequent vacations. They will primarily spend more on accommodations, transportation, and food & beverage.
In the US, seven percent of respondents indicate they plan to increase their travel budgets, and unlike the international trend, a majority (54 percent) of these US revenge travelers intend to take multiple shorter trips.
Even in a post-pandemic world, traveler behavior will be significantly different
For much of 2020, many people traveled closer to home, if at all – this staycation trend will not be going away. Overall, the preference for domestic travel will increase 39 percent and international travel will drop 49 percent amongst international leisure travelers. For US travelers, domestic travel is expected to grow 26 percent and international travel will drop 49 percent – however, the appetite for international travel is higher than it was in May 2020.
In addition, the pandemic is also having an impact on the choice of means of transport: 37 percent of US respondents will use the car more when planning their vacation. With regards to other modes of transportation, 44 percent intend to reduce use of air and train travel. The cruise industry also has to reckon with lower demand: 55 percent of US travelers state that they will take fewer cruises than before the pandemic.
Booking behavior will also have lasting impacts: 51 percent of international travelers surveyed plan to book more last minute because of insecurities (43 percent when looking at just US travelers), while 47 percent plan to book more early to benefit from price advantages (55 percent of just US travelers).
“While the continued trend of traveling domestically will have significant impact on the US travel industry in 2021, it’s also promising to see that the outlook on international travel is more favorable amongst both US travelers and international travelers than compared to when they were asked earlier in the pandemic,” says Dr. Wei Ke, Partner in Simon-Kucher’s Leisure, Travel and Tourism Practice. “When it comes to booking behaviors, we are seeing a degree of ambivalence – on one hand you have those who plan to wait until the last minute due to uncertainties, and on the other you have travelers who are booking earlier to get the best deals. As post-pandemic travel resumes, more than 80 percent of Americans expect discounts and promotions, which is the highest amongst all countries surveyed. It will be essential for travel companies to offer incentives that encourage early booking, while also reassuring consumers with flexible cancellation and rebooking policies. By doing so, they can respond to pent-up demand from travelers and provide reassurance to consumers who still have some uncertainties."
Full study report available upon request
*About the study: The global study, Travel Trends 2021 was conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners and ROIRocket in December 2020. More than 3,900 people across France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States were surveyed about their travel and booking behavior for 2021.
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Simon-Kucher & Partners, Strategy & Marketing Consultants:
Simon-Kucher & Partners is a global consulting firm with more than 1,400 professionals in 40 offices worldwide focusing on TopLine Power®. Founded in 1985, the company has 35 years of experience providing strategy and marketing consulting and is regarded as the world’s leading pricing advisor.
ROIRocket is a leading provider of full-service research, fulfillment, and digital and direct marketing support to a broad client base of consultants, investors, publicly and privately held corporations, agencies, and market research firms. For details, visit www.roirocket.com