We have been saying that these are unprecedented times, both personally and professionally. But few industries can say they have been impacted by COVID-19 like the travel industry. There is no downplaying of the effect a global lockdown has had on all of us in what CNN Business has called its "worst shock since 9/11."
What will the travel industry look like when we emerge from our stay-at-home status? Will our mutual customers want to travel again? When and where?
These questions weigh heavily on us at Apple Leisure Group® Vacations, and a critical part of our job is to gather as much third-party research as possible so that we can make informed business decisions. The data we analyze ranges from major research studies from corporations and universities or our own VAX VacationAccess search information, and today, we would like to share some of those insights with you.
First, some positive news: Americans still intend to book travel. While almost 80% of US consumers surveyed reported that they cancelled travel plans as a result of coronavirus, 46% said they plan to rebook those travel plans.
Source: University of Florida Tourism Crisis Management Initiative (n>400); updated 4/20/2020
Another interesting fact in the short-term is that travel to domestic destinations (including road trips) will likely recover sooner than international travel.
Sources: Google (n~1,000), University of Florida Tourism Crisis Management Initiative (n>400)
You can be sure that after several weeks of living with safety precautions due to COVID-19, vacationers will have a close eye on safety precautions and protocols when making decisions on where to travel. In fact, when given the choice between a hot travel deal and a vacation with clear safety protocols, travelers said they would "first and foremost seek personal safety before committing to travel."
Covid-19 Travel Insight Report, April 20, 2020
As always, ALGV has been in close contact with our air and hotel suppliers during this crisis. Our suppliers have been enhancing their own protocols to ensure healthy and safe experiences for our mutual clients. We are expecting there will be new and aligned industry standards that emerge from this, similar to the new normal we saw after 9/11. Here are a few changes we have seen so far:
As airlines look at a post-COVID-19 travel world, they are emphasizing limited contact, like scanning your own boarding passes and distancing through seat assignments when possible. One of the biggest changes from the airlines is cleaning the aircraft. United Airlines is promoting its electrostatic spray to disinfect cabin interiors, while Frontier Airlines uses a fogging system for cleaning.
We know this information is important to your clients, and we have added links on our VAX COVID-19 hub, so you can easily find these airline procedures.
A majority of the Mexico, Caribbean, and Central American hotels that ALGV contracts follow Cristal International Standards for safety and sanitation protocols. As a third-party company that establishes industry-standards for hotels and resorts, Cristal is currently working with its member hotels to emphasize health and hygiene upon reopening.
In the United States, you can expect to see hotels and resorts releasing their own safety protocols, like these comprehensive plans from Wynn Las Vegas and Marriott International. As clients emphasize health and safety over a travel bargain, this type of clear documentation will be more important than ever.
Americans will emerge from a haze of cabin fever eager to explore the world again. They will value the freedom to travel more than ever before, but we expect with different priorities and intentions. And while we know it will take time before we see the volume of travel return, we are confident many customers have learned the hard lesson of what happens when you don't book with an agent. They will need a travel advisor when they're ready to take advantage of their travel freedom.
So when they're ready, as an ALGV partner, you will be, too. As READY as we are.
Executive Vice President, Trade Brands
Apple Leisure Group® Vacations
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