A couple of reports on surveys from the end of July seem to affirm a point that has been made over and over during the past three months at virtual roundtables held weekly by Connect Travel (the parent company of INBOUND) in which travel and tourism industry experts generally agreed that the any recovery from the de facto shutdown of travel brought on by the coronavirus global pandemic of travel to and within the United States would be in the domestic sphere of the industry.
Travel would be closer to home with a preference for destinations that are not in or close to major metropolitan areas. Also, it was suggested by some tour operators that group sizes and, possible, smaller buses that would be leading the travel recovery.
While the above points might give some director to tour operators on what and how to package product for what remains of 2020 and for 2021, there was little sense of direction on the question of whether international travelers would forgo a long-haul visit to the U.S. for something else. The numbers from the two survey reports suggests that U.S. travelers are skittish when it comes to the question of “to fly or not to fly.”
According to one of the surveys, by The Manifest—a business services and marketing firm with offices in New Yok, Chicago, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.—two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans were at least somewhat uncomfortable with flying in the next month, limiting summer travel possibilities.
One will notice that, in the above, about the same percentage of people (67 percent) said they were uncomfortable with air travel in May and July 2020.
Seniors are Most Skittish: The survey found that more people 55 years old and above were very uncomfortable with air travel than people 18-34 years old in both May (59 percent vs. 45 percent) and July (56 percent vs. 44 percent).
Conversely, Americans ages 18-34 are also more likely to be at least somewhat comfortable with the idea of plane travel than those 55 and older.
There is Some Unease over Staying in a Hotel or on a Cruise Ship: Released early last week, a new survey of 3,500 people by Azurite Consulting (it is located in Holmdel, N.J., about an hour south of Manhattan) found 49 percent of people not at risk will wait less than two months to stay overnight in a hotel for leisure or business compared to 23 percent of people who are at risk. Among those at risk, 47 percent will not stay in a hotel for leisure until there is a treatment or vaccine, compared to only 19 percent of not-at-risk individuals who feel the same about waiting.
Other key survey findings include:
—More than two out of every five (44 percent) international air travelers won’t fly again until there’s a vaccine, 38 percent won’t fly domestic, and 33 percent won’t stay in a hotel until there’s a vaccine for the corona virus.
—The news is worse for the cruise industry, with 25 percent of survey respondents saying that they’ll never cruise again and 43 percent of respondents indicating that they won’t cruise until a vaccine is available.
—Customers prioritize and expect a range of items when flying: 61 percent want planes to be sanitized between flights; 60 percent said all passengers must wear masks; 43 percent want one-seat spacing; 21 percent would seek fully refundable tickets if at capacity; and only 11 percent are willing to fly with no new measures in place
—Just less than half (49 percent) of individuals who went to a casino in 2019, won’t go again until there is a vaccine. Among those at-risk individuals, 64 percent will wait for a vaccine while 36 percent of those not at risk are expected to return to casinos within two months.