Safety now drives choice of holiday—especially for older travelers. It used to be that, for Britons, price
was the key factor in determining a holiday package or its key components. Then came last March followed, in quick succession, by the COVID 19 crisis, in-country lockdowns, and closed borders.
Survey research in the second and early third quarter last year seemed to indicate that most UK travelers were still holding out hope against reality that something, anything, would happen that would enable them to take their holidays. Nothing happened.
While British consumers have resigned themselves to the reality that a 2021 holiday is now open to question—if only enough of the world’s population would receive vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus—what has changed over the past half-year, is that priorities about what is important to a holiday have change.
Tracking surveys undertaken during the second half of 2020 by the UK-based AllClear Travel Insurance shows how the priorities and concerns as to what the key considerations are when making a travel purchase have changed. (The research was conducted online by customer insights company MaruBlue at intervals during 2020—in June, July, November and December 2020. Each research sample polled a representative audience of 2,000 UK adults.)
The surveys found that:
—Demand for a summer holiday was high after the first lockdown, with two thirds of those surveyed wanting an overseas holiday in the summer.
—Safety was the top priority, rather than price, with more than two in five respondents (44 percent) wanting to visit a country with a good COVID-19 record.
—More than a third (36 percent) said having the best insurance cover possible, covering them for COVID-19, was top of their agenda.
—Over 55s were more likely to pick a destination based on its perceived COVID-19 safety record (56 percent vs. 28 percent of those under 34).
The Year Ahead—What It Looks Like: AllClear also tracked consumer sentiment towards travel at each pivotal point of the last year: the lockdowns, the tier levels in the UK, and the response to the vaccines—to give forecasts for what the industry will look like in 2021.
—AllClear found that of those UK adults surveyed last year, they were prepared to spend £1,335 ($1,824) more than they would usually on their holidays to ensure their trips would be as safe as possible. This rose to £1,644 ($2,247) for those with underlying health issues.
—In the autumn of 2020, when UK restrictions began to tighten, the number of people looking to book a short-haul break had doubled from 24 percent in July to 51 percent in November and the demand for long-haul travel had tripled, up from 10 percent in July to 30 percent in November.
—The research suggested that staycations rose in popularity, with 17 percent of those looking to book a getaway opting for a villa or private house, compared to just 5 percent who were choosing to book a cruise.
—With news of a possible vaccine announced near the end of 2020, more than half of the respondents (55 percent) said they would feel comfortable going on holiday again as traveling came a top priority for plans in 2021.
U.S. Not seen as that safe: Australia and New Zealand emerged as destinations people think are safest to visit now – even though they can’t due to current travel restrictions. Respondents believed southern and northern Europe would be safe to visit within 12 months (56 percent for each), almost one in two believed the Caribbean would be safe in a year and the U.S., South America and southern Asia will be off limits for at least a year, according to survey results.
• Meanwhile, consumers have little confidence in Summer 2021 overseas holidays: Results of a recent YouGov online survey of more than 3,500 UK adults revealed that only nine percent are confident that they’ll be taking an overseas holiday this summer, while 74 percent were not confident. The survey was conducted January 20.