Last week, MMGY Global says, was perhaps one of the most challenging weeks yet of the COVID-19 crisis—especially for the North American travel and tourism industry. Despite staffing furloughs and restructuring, however, there is a light at the end of this tunnel and travel brands should prepare to optimize efforts and strategize for a rebound when it arrives.
Some positive signals include:
- Domestic travel is beginning to return in China, and Trip.com reported that 1,000 tourism sites within the country had reopened their doors and gates last week.
- Travel continues to play a role in inspiring people, as social sentiment has shown a 57 percent increase when compared to the same time last year in people talking about dreaming of a vacation over the last 30 days.
- Destination organizations in particular have responded by supporting their local communities, creating a stronger position and role for these organizations when travelers return.
Last week’s release of the U.S. Travel Association’s new Travel Intention Pulse Survey may already be providing clues into the types of travel and market segments that will rebound first. The results, when compared to previous MMGY Global consumer sentiment studies conducted before the outbreak, are—not surprisingly—drastic. However, there are some indicators that could signal what behaviors consumers may move toward when travel returns. Among them:
- 68 percent of consumers feel safe in their cars—more than any other location asked about in the study, which could suggest an early resurgence in drive market travel when a rebound occurs
- 40 percent of consumers feel safe in parks, 11 points more than grocery stores, setting up outdoor travel—especially those tied to national and state parks—as a potential interest if restrictions begin to lift by mid-year
- While leisure travel recovery has typically preceded corporate FIT and group travel, business travelers show more signs of confidence in safety than leisure consumers in venues like hotels, air travel, rail and events
- While most assume younger consumers will be the first to adopt travel again, 49 percent of travelers that are 50 to 64 years of age show the least concern for their safety than any other age group
Some of the bad news: The two locations where travelers feel the least safe are international flights (10 percent) and cruises (12 percent).