The seesaw of sentiment – safety concerns remain, but they are not enough to deter travel plans

New research from global hotel guest acquisition platform SiteMinder has found that safety concerns among travellers in Australia, Germany and the United States are not enough to deter domestic holiday plans this year. In fact, ahead of plans to announce travel bubbles from the UK to specific foreign countries this coming week there has even been a huge spike in international travel bookings from the UK over the past weekend.

Here we focus on the SiteMinder research, its ‘Changing Traveller Report 2020: Special COVID-19 Edition’ series, based on the survey responses of more than 500 holidaymakers in each of the three countries – Australia, Germany and the United States – which shows that ‘well-promoted health and safety practices’ rank as the top consideration for American travellers and the second-top consideration for those in Australia and Germany when it comes to accommodation.

Yet in spite of the consideration trumping even the need to secure low prices, more than half Germans (61%) and Australians (54%) and almost half Americans (48%) still say they plan to travel within their country this year. The findings mirror the platforms World Hotel Index, which shows that of all bookings made to the countries’ hotels this month-to-date, over 95% are for stays this year.

SiteMinder’s regional director for EMEA, Clemens Fisch, says the findings are testament to the important role that travel will continue to play for many consumers in the post-Covid-19 environment. “Our research affirms beliefs that strong health safeguards will be needed across international markets during life after coronavirus,” he says.

However, he asserts that if accommodation providers can instil confidence among their guests, through the way they implement and practise health and safety at their properties, then “they can be assured that consumer fears will take a backseat to the human desire to travel”.

Covid-19 concerns with Americans are particularly strong. The percentage of US respondents to the SiteMinder research who don’t plan to ever travel again due to the virus almost doubles that of the other two nations, at 14.1%, compared with 7.6% of Australians and 7.1% of Germans.

We understand that there will be different rates of recovery in domestic and international travel and SiteMinder’s ‘Changing Traveller’ series data on Germany highlights this. Its findings show a high number of Germans are seeking to travel domestically in the second half of the year. Based on the survey responses of 561 German holidaymakers, it has found that three in five (60%) of Germans plan to travel domestically before the end of the year, and a third in the next three months.

The findings are especially encouraging for the country’s accommodation sector which will depend even more heavily on local guests to recover. Fortunately, it does have a strong domestic market – in the first half of 2019, 82% of the 222.4 million overnight stays at German properties were booked by local residents, according to accommodation data.

Mr Fisch, says the speed at which locals are looking to travel again will put Germany in a strong position to bounce back in the coming months.

“Hoteliers are encouraged by the volume of reservations that they are receiving at very short notice, including some who say that up to 25% of their enquiries are for some time in June. With Germany’s low reliance on long-haul tourism and its strong domestic base, the country will likely recover far quicker than many other parts of Europe,” he says.

According to the findings of SiteMinder’s survey, Germany’s growing B&B and vacation rentals sector will see a particular uptick in business, with 7.49% fewer people listing big chains and resorts as their top accommodation preference, in favour of smaller operators.

The ability to freely modify or cancel booking arrangements tops the current list of traveller concerns when deciding where to stay, followed by well-promoted health and safety practices, both of which trump any consideration of price. However, 7% conceded that due to the pandemic, they were not looking to travel again, at any point, in the future.

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