The Government’s Latest Advice– Don’t travel! With a key government minister advising Brits not to book holiday travel this summer serving as a backdrop, here is a collection of results from four different surveys of how UK travel consumers are changing and what they are looking for are highlighted.
Number 1. Only five percent of UK adults are confident they will be able to take a holiday abroad this summer, according to the results of a survey last Thursday (Feb. 11) of 5,018 by YouGov research.
One reason for the finding has been the stated position of government officials who are actively discouraging travel by Britons. The government’s transport secretary. Grant Shapps, has urged people not to book holidays in the UK or abroad this summer because it is “just too soon” to say whether they can go ahead.
Shapps said that “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now—not domestically or internationally,” but added that he was in talks with other governments about allowing people to travel later if they can prove they have been vaccinated. And he urged the British to wait for more clarity when the government introduces and explains its plan to end the state of lockdown in the week of February 22. Others results from the Feb. 11 YouGov snap poll included the following:
—The proportion of young adults (aged 18-24) confident they would have a holiday abroad was higher at 13 percent, but confidence diminished sharply with age: just six percent of 25–49-year-olds expressed confidence, only four percent of 50–65-year-olds and just three percent of over 65-year-olds did so, despite all those over than 50 being on course to be offered vaccination by the end of March.
—YouGov also reported that about one in 10 UK adults have already booked a UK summer holiday this year and almost as many a holiday abroad despite the government’s undermining of confidence to travel.
—Nine percent of respondents have booked a holiday in the UK, seven percent a holiday overseas and two percent have booked holidays both overseas and in the UK.
Number 2. Additional evidence of a continuing shift toward greater use of travel agents by older holidaymakers has been revealed in a new piece of research on the sector. This is the take on the current state of travel agencies in the UK from the recently published “Silver Travel Advisor’s 2021 Industry Report,” which surveyed more than 2,300 older travelers, found that nearly half (49 percent) would use a travel agent “to book a holiday that involves more than just a flight or a hotel booking.” The percentage on this one has grown from 36 percent in January 2020, which was when the last iteration of this report was published. The first of three surveys notes the following points.
—70 percent want to holiday abroad, a significant uptick since July 2020 and an indication of growing confidence in the idea of travelling again.
—57 percent of those without a current booking say they would fly within nine months, which is an increase of 13 percentage points from the 44 percent recorded last July.
—Almost all Silver Travelers (95 percent) are happy to have the vaccine.
—77 percent would travel within six months of receiving it, but 34 percent do not intend to travel at all or, at least, not right now
Effect on Spending:
—86 percent say they will spend as much or more on travel in the next year, suggesting this age group has not been hit financially as hard as some
—Just about half (49 percent) of existing ocean cruisers are eager to cruise within a year, and another 34 percent will be happy to sail again with a vaccine. However, 17 percent won’t return.
—75 percent of non-cruisers would consider a river cruise, but 14 percent of existing river cruisers say they won’t return to the water.
—52 percent of those surveyed cited the “reassurance of having someone to help if needed” or “my agent helped me get a refund” as reasons for booking with an agent.
—More than nine out of every 10 of those surveyed (93 percent) say full COVID-19 coverage in travel insurance is essential.
The report found that financial security, flexible cancellation arrangements and health and safety reassurance are the biggest influences on this market’s choice of travel company, while destinations will be chosen according to their COVID rating, flight frequency, access to medical facilities and the quarantine rules on return to the UK.
Discussing the survey’s findings, Debbie Marshall, managing director of Silver Travel Advisor, said: ““With its cancellations and challenges over refunds, the past year has highlighted the value of booking through a travel agent. The reassurance of having an agent to act as intermediary if things go wrong, as well as the advice and expertise they offer, is what seems to have driven up the number of people saying they would book with an agent.”
A Note on Methodology: Silver Travel Advisor is an advice and reviews site for over-50s. Its findings were based on three surveys of registered users last year, in May, July and November, plus a poll of older customers of Advantage Travel Partnership agents in January 2021. Six out of 10 respondents were aged 60-69; 75 percent were retired; and two in three were “broadly in good health.”
Number 3. “Hunger” for travel shows up in IHG survey of 2,000 people. In addition to the hunger, Britons seem to manifest degrees of anxiety and impatience as the calendar tells us that the peak travel season is not that far off. Check out the following findings from a recently released survey by IHG Hotels & Resorts.
—More than half (57 percent) of Brits have already rebooked, or plan to rebook, cancelled holidays, according to new research.
—Fifty-eight percent of UK residents have cancelled three or more breaks in 2020 including family holidays and travel for work.
—Family holidays and visiting loved ones are at the top of the travel wish lists for 2021.
—Forty percent of those surveyed said that 2020 was the longest they have ever gone without a trip and almost half (49 percent) think that holidays have positive impact on physical and mental health.
—Thirty-eight percent of those who travel for work say that business travel improves their working mood and makes them more motivated.
—Before the pandemic began to afflict the world of travel, the average adult would have a holiday or mini break every four months, with almost half (47 percent) feeling it’s important to have something to look forward to.
—Still, almost half (43 percent) said they plan to delay traveling until the vaccine is more widely and easily available.
Commenting on the findings, Karin Sheppard, senior vice-president and managing director for Europe at IHG Hotels & Resorts, said: “With so many looking forward to rebooking missed experiences, whether it’s travelling to spend time with family, a trip away with friends, or travelling for work—it’s evident that there’s a hunger for human connection again.”
Number 4. Are British travelers online holiday searches similar to the pre-pandemic environment?
Looking at a just released set of results from a Sojern European survey with a UK tilt, Travel Weekly posted a series of takes on the report conducted by the San Francisco -based company known for its high-tech travel search tools and solutions. The research for this endeavor was based on more than 350 million traveler profiles and billions of travel intent signals across Europe. Some notes provided by TW included the following.
—The UK ranks second among European outbound markets searching for summer holidays on the continent – and the rates reflect pre-pandemic levels.
—Nearly 25 percent of European searches for summer holidays were from France, followed by the UK at 19 percent and Italy at 12 percent This pattern has not changed much in comparison to 2019. It also found a “significant shift” towards longer trip durations than in 2019.
—Even so, the report pointed out how inbound travel to the UK has been hit by the tightening of border restrictions.
—Also, travelers from France, the UK and Italy were showing the highest levels of regional travel intent for this summer. Almost 60 percent of regional summer flight searches in 2019 were made by France, Italy and the UK, with about 55 percent of travel intent comes from the same three origin countries.”
—Sojern speculated that the longer trip durations “could reflect the fact that many have not taken a trip abroad in a long time due to the pandemic, or have holiday carried over from work”.
—In 2019, 69 percent of hotel stays were being planned for up to three days. This duration has decreased to 37 percent. Meanwhile, trips of four days or more have almost doubled in popularity from 31 percent to 61 percent.