It’s the question that everyone in the travel and tourism industry is asking — who will travel first post-Coronavirus?
There are numerous webinars, charts, graphs and data points that are all trying to answer this question. We wanted to do something slightly different — humanize the data and get firsthand perspectives of real travelers by tapping into our community of 25M travelers, one of the largest communities on social media. We wanted to find out who is planning on traveling, where they’re going, and what they expect from their first trip in this new normal.
A few interesting trends emerged:
- Travelers are willing to reprogram their habits to embrace the new safety protocols rather than not traveling at all. They understand that it’s the price we’ll have to pay to travel in the near future. The implication for marketers is to balance inspiration with practical information — be transparent with required safety protocols.
- Interestingly, the most prevalent concerns are not around getting sick but more around travel restrictions — getting in and out of a destination, flights getting canceled, and wasting precious time with new check-in and screening procedures. This points to the importance of clear messaging around reopening as well as flexible booking policies by airlines, hotels, and tour operators.
- Travelers are looking for easy-wins. Most of our respondents were traveling to well-known destinations, visiting friends and family, or going back to old favorites. Taking 3+ flights, pushing off the beaten path, and forging into uncharted waters is a bit much for travelers right now. Marketers should look to repeat customers, nearby markets, and familiarity rather than pushing the limits.
Without further ado, meet eight first-movers from the global BD community sharing their perspectives on post-COVID travel. Notes and quotes have been edited for clarity.
I hopefully will be traveling to Greece with my family and my boyfriend for two weeks in July (if we're able to). My family goes to Greece every summer, where we have family. This year, my cousin is pregnant and we would just love to see her! I also really wanted to show my boyfriend the beautiful atmosphere of the Greek Islands, the warmth of the people, the delicious food, and the overall experience.
We're afraid our flights will be canceled but for now the trip is still on. I'm not really afraid of contracting COVID because Switzerland and Greece both have managed the crisis pretty well! We will be wearing masks while in the airport, in the airplane, and while in other modes of public transportation (e.g. ferries). I'm not sure how I feel about temperature screenings because having fever isn’t a sure sign of having COVID. With that said, I wouldn't mind having to get tested at the airport, even though it might be a long wait and cost a lot. We will be very careful, especially because my cousin is pregnant, and will for sure be keeping our distance with her and other people.
I'm honestly just looking forward to breathing some fresh air. These last few months have been extremely hectic and overwhelming — I'd really like to be able to unwind and relive this beautiful experience. It’s something that we look forward to the most among my parents, sister, and Greek family.
I’ll be traveling to Portugal at the end of August for 7 days with one of my friends from primary school. We decided to book the trip a few days ago — at that time quarantine was still mandatory for people returning to Hungary from most countries, but now it is lifted.
When I checked flight prices to Lisbon in the past, it was always more expensive than it is now. It felt like a good idea to book it, and of course not go if there is any issue with corona. My biggest concern is that a second wave of COVID comes earlier than expected and we may get stuck there or our plans will be cancelled. I am totally fine with wearing masks and temperature screenings. Wearing a mask may not be very comfortable on a 4 hour flight, but it is best to be safe.
I started learning Portuguese during quarantine, so I would be happy if I could at least use a few sentences on our trip. I can’t wait to explore Lisboa, eat delicious food, go to the beach, and meet new people. After staying at home for almost 70 days (I was at home from March 10th until May), I am really excited to be finally "free" for a little while and explore new things.
I live in Barcelona and I'm going to Miami from July 10th to around July 20th to see friends who live there. I had the trip planned for April, but it got canceled and I decided to re-book it.
My biggest concern is that my flights get cancelled. I agree with all of the health restrictions and screenings at the airport and on the plane. Overall, I'm most looking forward to getting back to normal as much as possible and seeing my friends.
I had planned to go to Jamaica for 10 days in March, but rescheduled for August. I’ll be traveling with my boyfriend, who will be flying in from Texas. I’m concerned about entering the country — COVID testing, waiting for the results, and restrictions while waiting (if any). Wait times in the airport are a concern as well, but I’m comfortable with wearing masks, temperature screenings, etc. while traveling.
I’m just looking forward to relaxing and visiting a few attractions. I visit Jamaica a few times per year so these new guidelines are making me not want to go, honestly, but I’m going to.
I’ll be visiting Paradise Island in the Bahamas for 7 nights with my husband and two tween sons. My biggest concerns are getting sick and not being able to work when I get home. I’m in healthcare, so I’m all for protective measures like masks, temperature screenings, etc. while traveling.
I’m just looking forward to scuba diving with my sons, who will be getting their junior advanced open water certifications, in the gorgeous Caribbean Sea.
I decided to travel after doing some research — I didn’t find any restrictions on flying into Mexico. I also spoke to a couple of locals and they assured me that by July 1st everything will be fully opened in Tulum. The trip was super cheap when I booked it two weeks ago. I’ll be traveling with my girlfriend and visiting the first week of July.
My biggest concern is not being able to return due to travel restrictions. I’m not concerned about things while traveling — it’s necessary to wear a mask in most places, especially while on the plane. I’m looking forward to scuba diving and checking out the cenotes.
I’m from Switzerland, and living in Hong Kong. I’m currently visiting Taiwan. Normally I travel for short trips but this time I had to quarantine so I made the overall trip 3.5 weeks. I’m traveling alone — I run a Venture Capital firm so I can work from anywhere. In my opinion, masks during most activities are more theater than anything, making people feel safer. They make little difference in planes, but are good when moving around airports and while in public transit. Temperature screening everywhere is smart.
I don’t have any concerns about traveling — I’m not scared of the virus (it’s statistically extremely unlikely to be an issue for me) and I’m tired of having governments telling me what I can and can’t do with my life. I’m most worried about these government restrictions around travel. For example, if I visit somewhere with a lot of cases, does it mean I can’t enter another country for a month? So far I have been able to enjoy all the usual stuff in Taiwan — Taipei city life and a small trip out of town to do some activities.
I’ll be traveling to Canada at the end of July. As soon as the international travel ban lifts in India, I will book the first flight out. I’ll be traveling solo, because I’m permanently relocating to Vancouver. I was supposed to fly out on March 30th but the lockdown started in India a week prior to my flight and I couldn’t travel. The reason I chose Vancouver was because of its proximity to everything — mountains, beaches, lakes, and islands. The first thing I'll be doing is a beautiful drive down the sea-to-sky highway.
Despite everyone's opinions on the timing, I want to move to a new location and settle during these times. The world won’t be the same for a while but if you take necessary precautions and follow the rules and recommendations, you can still keep moving forward. As a travel enthusiast, I would rather reprogram my habits than forbid myself [from traveling].
My biggest concern is that I won’t be able to explore the destination to its full potential due to COVID-related limitations. It won't be as simple as going out and trying out amazing cuisines and activities — I’ll need to exercise caution at every step. I find wearing masks and temperature screenings to be unpleasant but necessary. It takes away a little sense of joy when you're exploring a new place. But without it we wouldn't be able to travel at all, so its a trade-off I'm more than willing to accept.
What this Means for the Travel Industry
These responses (among the many others we received) confirm that desire to travel remains high — many are just as eager to travel as ever, but there are a significant number of new barriers to overcome around safety and travel restrictions. Recovery starts with real action via new safety protocols, but marketers will play an important role in clearly conveying this key information while also giving travelers compelling reasons to travel — both emotional and rational.
We’re thankful for all of the great responses from our community, and look forward to traveling again. Beautiful Destinations recommends that travelers follow the latest guidance from local governments and public health organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and abide by all travel protocols developed to make the global travel recovery a success for everyone.