Travel Nearing Pre-Pandemic Frequency: Collinson

According to new research among frequent flyer members of Collinson’s Priority Pass, travelers are planning to make nearly as many trips by air in the next year as they did prior to the pandemic. In no mood to sacrifice their travel plans, they are making adjustments based on their wallets despite rising costs.

Between June 22, 2022 and July 11, 2022, Collinson carried out fieldwork and independently sampled 3,762 frequent flyers–Priority Pass members who purchased their membership direct across major international markets, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Spain, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Mexico, Italy and France. It provides insight into traveler habits, preferences, loyalties and intentions as the industry recovers from the pandemic. It follows similar studies in 2020 and 2021.

Here's what we learned:

Sixty-two percent of Priority Pass members report they would rather spend less on retail purchases, and 30 percent reported they would spend less on dining, than reduce their travel funds. Additionally, a quarter of survey respondents are willing to cancel their gym membership and 21 percent would cancel streaming services.

Despite a troubling economic backdrop, travelers plan to make eight return trips on average in the next 12 months—nearly back to the average of 10 trips made pre-pandemic in 2019. This shows there’s a need for continued investment to ensure travel gets back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of both delivery and customer experience. This is especially important given 29 percent of travelers expressed dissatisfaction with how they were treated during the pandemic by an airline provider—and said they had subsequently thought twice about using their services again.

Confidence is at the heart of post-pandemic recovery with airport lounge access (47 percent) still being the thing that travelers were most likely to pay for. After knowing that travel companies required other passengers to be vaccinated, being able to access an airport lounge was the second biggest confidence booster for travelers. That said, over a fifth (22 percent) gave it as their top reason for feeling confident about traveling again, while 47 percent listed it in their top three reasons.

Members are also very likely to pay for other premium travel experiences, such as upgraded seating (43 percent) or direct flights (39 percent). The study showed that faceless, contactless and self-services are also becoming increasingly popular. Nearly half (47 percent) of members said they are more likely to either pay for contactless services or use a self-service bag drop than wait to speak to a human at a desk.

In general, people are feeling far more confident about traveling than they were a year ago. In last year’s survey, over a third (35 percent) of members said they felt cautious about traveling in the future; that figure has more than halved to 16 percent this year.

“Our latest research is great news for the travel industry, suggesting that as a cost-of-living crisis looms in many parts of the world, travel spend is way down on the list of things that people will consider cutting from their household budget. It also indicates it is frequent flyers who will be leading the charge in order to maintain the trajectory of travel recovery, a specific focus on their needs is paramount across the travel ecosystem,” said David Evans, joint CEO at Collinson.

The survey reinforces a growing interest in travel loyalty program post-pandemic, with 43 percent of global respondents stating a growing interest and 1 in 4 (24 percent) stating that they are “very interested.” Compared to global counterparts, 34 percent of U.S. survey respondents were most interested in loyalty programs.

In terms of the best way to engage with interested Priority Pass members, 80 percent stated access to benefits and perks as the key motive for engagement, while 58 percent stated the opportunity to earn rewards as the second main driver.

Similar to last year, people are still more likely to be traveling for leisure (45 percent) than for business (35 percent). Many are even traveling to nurture relationships. When asked why they were traveling, nearly 30 percent of Priority Pass members reported that they wanted to travel to make memories with their families, while 18 percent said they wanted to get away with someone special.

The most frequently claimed motivation for travel is the same as it has always been to rest and relax. Over half (55 percent) listed this in their top three reasons for making a journey. North America (37 percent) and the Caribbean (33 percent) were cited as Priority Pass members’ top travel destinations.

Sheryl Pflaum, president of the Americas at Collinson said, “We are seeing that leisure travel is relatively close to pre-COVID levels. People are making up for lost time and being more thoughtful about where they travel to and how they spend their money as the world continues to open up again.”

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