Travel tech company Impala has discovered that despite the fact most people have been stuck at home for months on end, only 42 percent of people are planning to travel in 2021. According to a survey of consumers across the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates who regularly traveled before COVID-19 hit, more than half (58 percent) didn’t travel at all in 2020.
Of those who said they won’t travel this year, a third (34 percent) attributed it to concerns about their health, while 27 percent said they want to wait until they’ve been vaccinated. This is likely to deal a blow to travel sellers, hotels, resorts and attractions who have been hoping to see customer numbers start to return to normal after more than a year of lockdowns, according to Impala. The report added that it was thought that, as vaccination programs ramp up and restrictions ease, customers would start traveling again but Impala’s figures suggest there has been a shift in priorities.
A Shift in Priorities
Among those surveyed, the top reason people said they would travel in 2021 was to see family and friends (38 percent). Of those planning to go further afield, 32 percent said they want their destination to be less crowded, and a quarter said they now consider it important to travel to a destination with a good healthcare system. Meanwhile, 22 percent said they will pick destinations with the highest vaccination rates.
When booking accommodation, respondents said they are concerned about three things: Regular mask-wearing among staff, regular room disinfection and flexible cancellation and rebooking options.
Types of Bookings
In terms of the types of bookings, there was little change in the choice of accommodation people will opt for in 2021. Participants who previously preferred a hotel over a rental apartment or Airbnb, for instance, will be sticking with these choices when they start traveling again. In fact, 70 percent of people surveyed said they would prefer to stay in a hotel on their next trip.
Conversely, the length of time people will likely be away for has changed. To note: Many are considering taking longer trips. Of those looking to be away for 14 days or longer, a fifth of respondents said they wanted to combine remote work with their stay, preferably at a destination that allows for productive work.
Personal Touch and Improved Tech
Beyond COVID, a corresponding survey commissioned by Impala found that travelers want a more personal touch when they stay in hotels—whether that’s attention paid to ensuring accessible guests’ needs are met or recognizing a special occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary. Respondents said they want to feel valued during their stay, Impala said.
This personal touch extends to the room they stay in. The participants said that they would actively be put off booking a stay at a hotel that uses generic room photos on its website. Customers want to know what their exact room will look like, what facilities it has and its layout. Virtual tours were quoted as a feature that would help seal the deal, as were decent coffee making facilities like a Nespresso machine.
Good connectivity and tech were also highlighted by consumers, as respondents said they want to be able to check-in, leave their room on the final day, and control the tech and lights in their room all from a central app.