Around the world, vaccination programs are gathering pace and consumers everywhere are beginning to assess their own attitudes to travel. Asking themselves questions such as: ‘is it safe to travel?’; ‘should I travel for business?’; ‘vacation or staycation?’. Rakuten Insight took a snapshot of consumers attitudes to travel through asking consumers from our own 12 proprietary panels in Asia.
The survey found that Japan (34%) is the preferred location of travel, for consumers in Asia, once restrictions are lifted. The time forced without travelling may have led to a preference for more exotic locations, may reflect the success of Japan’s tourism campaigns underpinned by hosting the Olympic Games or simply reflect consumers seeking more shopping trips, from markets such as Hong Kong & Taiwan, after months of being forced to shop online!
South Korea (77%) & Hong Kong (73%) are most eager to travel overseas once restrictions are lifted. This may reflect the geography of these markets or the intensity of the lockdown experience during the pandemic. Least willing to travel is China (44%) & Indonesia (46%) which may indicate a greater concern that the pandemic will continue. Conversely, these markets may be encouraging domestic travel & ‘staycations’ more than others.
A key finding from the survey is that consumers will need to be reassured on their concerns over the safety of travel with 49% indicating this as a main concern. An increase in cost and lower value for money is expected and can be managed, however, the concern over safety may be more difficult to overcome.
This concern over personal safety is also relevant for the hotel industry. The importance of hygiene after the COVID pandemic can be seen in cleanliness (53%) being the third most important factor in hotel choice, behind value for money (65%) and location (56%).
In terms of business travel, the data seems to indicate that business travel is set to return more slowly with only 7% indicating business as the reason for travel. Personal leisure is the primary motivation (69%) as consumers seek respite from the challenges of the pandemic.
Consumers in Asia have certainly not lost their appetite to travel. However, success for brands in the travel space will depend on how far brands can reassure on the concern for personal safety and how far individual countries can get the virus (plus any variants) under control.