Travel recovery begins to take off

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  • “Fear of Missing Out” and a “catch up” in business travel and bookings leads to short-term increase in business travel
  • Summer travel surge expected to continue for the rest of the year
  • Last minute vacations are driving leisure travel to a fast recovery
  • Travelers broadly comfortable with COVID Passports

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Almost 70% of global consumers plan to travel domestically within the next six months, yet less than 10% have booked their trips according to a new survey from consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

“The summer travel surge is just the beginning of a recovery that seemed almost impossible a little more than a year ago,” said Michael Wette, Head of IMEA Transportation & Services, Oliver Wyman. “We expect to see a continued desire for leisure travel through the end of the year and travel providers should anticipate a sustained leisure recovery with strong bookings continuing at least through the end of the year.”

“The travel industry continues to be a part of the diversification strategy for governments in the Middle East region and in the UAE in particular. There will be an even greater level of leisure and business travel due to major events and exhibitions like Dubai Expo 2020, the Dubai Airshow and ADIPEC being hosted.”

The survey findings revealed the following:

Leisure travel

  • 76% of respondents expect to travel the same or more post-COVID for leisure
  • Traffic out of US airports will match and may even exceed the rate of pre-pandemic travel sometime in early 2022.
  • International leisure travel continues to be the most impacted by the pandemic, as most travelers opt to stay closer to home.  The Chinese (81%), United States (67%) and Australian (62%) travelers will prefer to travel domestically when restrictions are lifted. Whereas Canadians (54%) and most Europeans will favour international trips, mostly short hall.

Business travel

  • Business travelers are optimistic about the return of corporate trips. Globally, about 75% of business travelers expect to travel the same as or more than they did pre-pandemic. 
  • There will be a “catch up” in business travel and bookings will spike significantly in the near-term. However, changing company policies and the effectiveness of teleconferencing may reduce the long-term need for business travel.
  • Business travel will also differ greatly by country. For example, business travelers in the US, China, and Australia are primed to travel significantly more than they did pre-COVID, while Europeans still plan to travel less than before the pandemic.

“Business travel is being driven by fear of missing out,” added Wette. “The survey reveals that 80% of business travelers expect to travel the same or more after the COVID crisis, due to increased activity or in some case inefficient teleconferencing. Business travel will also be driven by the need to reconnect with teams, especially in the short-term.”

Key factors for travel

  • Price is the most important criteria in travel decisions and has been throughout the pandemic, with 66% of global travelers ranking price as one of their top three factors to purchase a flight.  
  • Cleanliness is becoming a less important factor in travel decisions as we get further away from the height of the pandemic.
  • While more airlines promote their environmental sustainability measures, only 17% of consumers globally and 12% of US consumers consider this as a top three factor when deciding about one flight over another.  Overall, environmental sustainability measures continue to rank last across all three surveys.
  •  Globally almost 70% of travelers are willing to enroll in a digital identification program, which would include vaccine status and other healthcare data. Vaccinated respondents are more willing to share their data, compared to unvaccinated travelers.

“The industry faces significant challenges, especially around the new Delta variant and a possible overall talent shortage, but demand for consumer travel will push the industry back sooner than we initially thought,” said Bruno Despujol, a partner with Oliver Wyman.

About the survey:

The third edition of our travel sentiment survey involved nearly 5,300 people across nine countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, United States), all of whom had flown at least once in 2019; nearly 90 percent had been vaccinated against COVID-19 or are planning to be vaccinated.

About Oliver Wyman:

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 60 cities across 29 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 5,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a business of Marsh & McLennan Companies