Changes in tourists' demands
A full recovery of tourism is not expected before 2025 according to the provisional data of the annual survey of Phocuswright, presented in the context of the 4th International Hospitality Forum, which was conducted digitally under the auspices of the Hotel Chamber of Greece.
Adaptation of the tourism industry to the new reality is necessary.
Presenting the provisional data of the annual survey, which addresses consumer sentiment in Europe and the US, Phocuswright Senior Market Analyst, Peter O 'Connor, stressed that things are better than one would expect, as consumers continue to want to travel, despite the difficulties encountered by COVID-19.
Characteristically, more than half of the participants in all markets
surveyed (US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France), said leisure
travel continues to be an important part of their lifestyle, while they
look forward to returning to. In addition, at least one in four
participants from all countries say they are ready to travel
immediately, and over the course of a year, willingness to travel rates
reach around 90%.
Nevertheless, personal health is now the number one priority for travelers, with more than a third of the sample (65-78%) saying they are concerned about the virus, although worry focuses more on the risk during the trip and not at the destination. In addition, respondents are concerned about the risk of quarantine, especially upon arrival at the destination, as this event significantly affects their travel experience and, in addition, may force them to stay at the destination longer than originally planned.
Focus should be on domestic and European tourism
Domestic tourism will be the first to recover, followed by intercontinental travel, to nearby destinations. Indeed, the willingness to travel internationally by July 2021, especially outside Europe, falls below 50%. Therefore, the wise choice for the tourism industry is to focus on approaching this segment of visitors in the near future.
However, it is pointed out that domestic tourism will help maintain the tourism industry in the short term, but it is particularly important to attract visitors from Europe in the medium term.
Customers’ information on sanitation measures and refund policies
Clear, immediate and continuous information to the customers regarding the new hotel policies, both for the sanitation measures and for the refund policies, is considered to be key, as cancellations are now much more probable and unpredictable than in the past.
Especially with regard to hygiene and safety, travelers consider it important to know in advance what measures the accommodation of their choice will take, regarding cleaning and sanitation procedures (79-90%), the personal protective equipment of the staff (71- 89%) and guests (74-89%), social distance policies in shared spaces (78-89%), and check-in procedures (73-81%) with remote check-in policies gaining ground in the preferences of consumers.
In fact, it seems that a significant percentage of respondents prefer the choice of rental accommodations over hotels, based on a greater sense of control over the space and less chances of crowding, compared to staying in a large hotel with many tenants.
Regarding the fear of losing money from a possible cancellation, this concerns the respondents in percentages ranging between 35% -55%, with the UK and Spain leading the way in that aspect. This uncertainty has turned a significant portion of the market into last minute bookings, with the possibility of refund/rebooking, while preferring accommodations with clear and easy to find relevant policies.
Good value for money is required
As a result of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many
people will be forced to change their travel habits from an economic
aspect as well. The case of Italy, where out of the respondents who
stated that they will not travel within the next 12 months, almost half
cite financial difficulties as the cause, is indicative.
But even those willing to travel, in all survey countries, saw significant percentages stating that they will travel on a lower budget, either by reducing the duration or by preferring lower-cost accommodation, in order to meet the budget requirements of their holiday. Lower budget will also affect the income that travelers are willing to spend on food and shopping while in the destination.
The solution is to offer accommodation with a good value for money, which will offer travelers the opportunity to enjoy their vacation without excessive cuts and will strengthen the tourism industry as a whole.
Overall, the survey concludes that less than 1 in 5 consumers believe that current changes will become permanent during their vacation, in a post-COVID era. However, they rely heavily on the development of an effective vaccine, in order to feel safe and return to their previous habits.
Especially in the case of Greece, Petter O 'Connor's message to the tourism industry was clear: Concentrate on Europe, reassure consumers about their safety, convince them that you offer good value for money and be confident that 2021 will be a good tourist season