Global traveller survey
Assessing the consumer view of travel
ACI World last week released a major global survey on attitudes to travel in the post-COVID-19 world. We present highlights, including a warning that airports and retailers must build back trust in the safety of their environments.
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Nearly half of travellers plan trips in the next three months, according to a new survey by Airports Council International (ACI) World. But crucially, the industry must still convince many travellers about the safety of airport environments, and commercial zones in particular (see below).
Encouragingly, 97% of respondents said they did plan to travel again, and 48% said they would travel within the next three months. However, as ACI noted, the survey (conducted in September) represents a moment in time, with conditions around the world changing almost daily.
Therefore, said the airports body, it is vital to know why people might choose to travel, what is their confidence level about a return to flying and what are the perceived barriers to making a trip.
ACI World Director Market Research Valerie St-James noted: “It’s one thing to have the will to travel, but the context needs to be favourable.”
Who will fly in the short term, ACI asked? Generally it will be those obliged to travel, mainly for business or personal reasons. More of those trips will be taken via domestic flights, with international to follow later, said ACI, reflecting other recent surveys about consumers’ appetite to fly.
Importantly, four out of five of those surveyed said they felt confident in the safety of the journey. That leaves 20% left to be reassured about flying.
Potential barriers to taking any trip are led by the requirement to quarantine. Some 76% said they would not travel if they have to quarantine – placing the emphasis firmly on governments to ease such restrictions and help rebuild confidence. Another key factor is the health situation in the destination country, with 60% saying their choice of destination will be influenced by infection rates.
In the longer term, will travel habits return to those that prevailed in the past? In a telling piece of data, ACI noted that 61% said they would travel just as much as before and 12% more frequently, but 27% less frequently. St-James noted: “There will be a slight decrease in overall traffic so it may take more than the pandemic ending to get back to where we were before.”
What are passengers’ perceptions of what awaits them at the airport? Around 20% are not confident about the safety of the experience overall, as noted, and this differs by touchpoint. Travellers were asked to name which part of the travel chain in they would feel most concerned about catching COVID-19. Alarmingly for travel retail, 28% cited the commercial areas, behind only the 38% who feared the onboard aircraft experience and even ahead of the washrooms (26%).
Of the high proportion who cited the commercial zone as potentially worrying, St-James said: “This is more concerning as it could have a direct impact on non-aeronautical revenues. This perception will influence their behaviour. Respondents who are afraid of catching the virus here will visit fewer stores or restaurants. Airports must put the right measures in place and communicate that this step of the journey remains safe and that it can still enhance the passenger’s visit.
Although expectations among travellers of the new travel world vary by region, some stand out worldwide. These include a strong desire for the use of masks both by passengers and staff. Testing pre-trip is also in demand, as are sanitising stations and importantly, contactless experiences. By region, contactless experiences were most in demand in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
“Whatever the measures,” said St-James, “passengers must be informed before they arrive at the airport, but once there must easily see what is in place, with clear guidelines. Some of this requires investment or is challenging to implement, so we asked also whether passengers want to see these measures remain even after the pandemic. Here, 65% said yes.”
The survey was compiled based on 4,100 respondents across 30 countries in six regions worldwide. All had travelled at least once in 2019. The report’s compilation was supported by Munich Airport International, Plaza Premium Group, engineering and service group KONE Corporation, and consumer research company POTLOC.
The full report can be found here:
The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 286 | 16 November 2020
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