The latest findings of the Travel Advisors COVID-19 Sentiment Barometer (Wave II), released in partnership by MMGY Myriad and Travel Market Report, indicate that travelers are being cautious about their international travel plans by booking with some of the longest windows advisors have ever seen. Meanwhile, there is still limited appetite for travel in the more immediate future—but the shift in interest to domestic, outdoor-focused trips continues.
The industry survey of North American travel advisors revealed that the majority of travel being booked is for seven or more months in advance. This time frame is even longer for international travel, cruises and group tour vacations; however, there has been a slight increase in the percentage of travelers booking North American travel for the next 30 days, rising from 10 percent in June to 16 percent in July.
Overall, advisors report that 42 percent of all inquiries received are about U.S. destinations—that’s up 100 percent over pre-coronavirus levels. (Prior to COVID-19, domestic destinations made up only about 16 percent of all inquiries.) Outdoor vacations, specifically to North American beach and mountain destinations, continue to be of most interest to clients in the next six months.
Travel to global destinations has dropped from 41 percent to 26 percent (pre-COVID-19 and currently, respectively). Following North American beach and mountain destinations, among the top interest of clients, is international river cruises.
In regard to lodging, the survey found that clients appear to feel more comfortable staying in smaller, more private accommodations. Private villas/cabins are also up. Interest in short-term rentals increased slightly but still remains low overall, and there was less interest in large hotels in July than in June.
According to travel advisors, health concerns related to COVID-19 were even more of a concern in July compared to last June, with 92 percent of advisors indicating in July this is a barrier to booking travel; this is up from 85 percent in June. The growing concern for health and safety has advisors increasingly believing that promotional offers would not affect clients’ decisions to book a trip. Government advisories and travel restrictions was also a top concern. On Thursday, the U.S. State Department removed the Level 4 Global Travel Advisory due to COVID-19, although many countries still have a ban on U.S. travelers.
As travel continues to be hindered by the pandemic and a return to normalcy remains unclear, travel advisors are increasingly concerned about their business. The survey found the number of advisors who expect business to be down 75 percent or more in 2020 rose from 59 percent in June to 71 percent in July. A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) found that more than nine in 10 agencies reported business income as being down at least 75 percent as compared to last year, with more than three-quarters reporting business being down 90 percent or more.
The online survey of travel advisors in the U.S. and Canada is designed and analyzed by MMGY Travel Intelligence. Wave II of the survey was conducted July 13–28, 2020, and includes responses from more than 500 travel advisors. Wave I of the Barometer surveyed more than 300 travel advisors from June 1–10, 2020.
Source: MMGY Myriad