COVID-19 remains a major hurdle for the travel industry, according to a new study from The Brandon Agency and TravelBoom Marketing.
While the agencies’ COVID-19 Travel Consumer Sentiment Study found that almost eight of out 10 potential travelers surveyed (79 percent) had been fully vaccinated, nearly half said they were either hesitant to book a vacation—or won’t be booking one—due to the emergence of the Delta variant.
More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents said that they won’t even start to plan a trip until 2022 or later. Even those who were currently thinking about taking a trip voiced hesitation, with 39 percent indicating that they would not actually travel until sometime next year and 33 percent saying they would not book their trip until 2022.
The biggest concern for 30 percent of those surveyed was the fear of interactions with other guests, with fears of circulated air (25 percent) and budget concerns (23 percent) following close behind.
Keeping trips close to home seems to up the comfort level for many travelers, with most respondents saying they’d be willing to drive up to three hours away from their homes within the next month. But there was an overall reluctance to take longer trips, with 45 percent of respondents saying that they would not be willing to fly to a travel destination within the next year.
One thing that could sway more travelers toward hitting the road again is flexibility on the part of travel providers. Eight out of ten respondents indicated that they could be persuaded to book a vacation during the pandemic if they were allowed to change their travel dates without penalty.
Another plus for travelers: cleanliness. For 82 percent of respondents, deep cleaning hotel rooms between guest visits would make them more willing to stay in a hotel. In addition, almost seven out of 10 (68 percent) said that keeping rooms vacant for 24 hours between guests would make them more likely to check-in.
Travelers also are asking that travel destinations keep the lines of communication with potential visitors open. At the top of the list of what they want to know are the most recent local mask requirements for the destination (75 percent), followed by cleaning protocols at the property (68 percent) and the open status of local restaurants (67 percent).
When asked what would encourage them to travel again, the top three responses were: “I will travel again when I feel safe,” “I will travel when I am comfortable,” and “I will travel when I am vaccinated.”
The COVID-19 Travel Consumer Sentiment Study surveyed 1,902 individuals on Sept. 1, with 1,844 providing complete responses.