The 8th Battleground: Return to Travel

By David Griffiths & Raim Islam

VP Content, Head of Insight & Insight Consultant
3 minute read

For our final Battleground blog we are exploring the 10.5 million Return to Travel conversations that have grown 13% in recent weeks. Much of this is driven by the focus shifting from the frenzy regarding refunds and cancelled flights into actual new demand.

Having not been able to travel long distances, many travellers, particularly young adults and families, have expresses a strong desire to get back into the air. We’ve even seen a 176% growth in passengers exploring travel regulations in some pretty distant destinations, although how quickly this can materialise into bookings is based on regional governments and quarantine regulations more than the airlines themselves.

Frequent Fliers

Another growing conversation that we’ve seen through this series has been in the Loyalty program status, which emerges this week again as a driver of demand. While some are still rethinking their loyalties to particular airlines based on how they responded to the pandemic, more and more passengers are now focusing on getting back into air rather than previous transgressions. This shows that as a category, airlines generally responded well to passenger concerns, and enhancements to the terms and conditions of the programs has appeased customers.

Future Demand

The biggest areas in which we’ve seen demand have been in Luxury travel packages or experiences that are centred around Wildlife & Nature. For those still in regular employment, or who haven’t taken pay cuts during the pandemic, the lockdown has been a chance to save money. Perhaps given this we’ve seen over 500,000 travellers talking about seeking out extravagant experiences in recent weeks. The second largest area, with over 300,000 conversations, is being driven by those who have felt disconnected from nature or the outdoors during lockdown. For those perhaps more financially effected by the pandemic, we’ve seen a 9% growth in conversations around demand for cheaper holidays. Passengers are expecting the airline industry to roll out discounts and lower prices in the coming weeks to reattract them back, feeling they’re owed a little back based on poor responses to the pandemic in regard to refunds etc.

Airline Initiatives

The last area we’ll touch on is the 19% growth in passenger engagement with airlines messaging around how they will reopen, based on the reality that we’re opening whilst still in the midst of a global pandemic. The two most important topics for passengers are reflective of the two most repeated global messages – maintaining distance and increasing sanitation protocols.

The idea of increasing personal space has grown by 12%, but is a topic that has long been increasing in importance. Many airlines have proposed that going into the future, they will be looking to increase the amount of space afforded to each passenger in response to the outbreak. While this could reduce the risk of infection, many prospective fliers are also excited about the prospect of potentially having more space inflight.

The final comment in this blog, and series, is perhaps appropriate given it is where we started, the desire from passengers for better Safety & Sanitation protocols when travelling. While this growth has calmed from the thousand percentage growth we saw in the early days, three months on we’re still seeing it grow by 35%. The outbreak of COVID-19 was an eye opener for passengers and the airline industry on the importance of safety and sanitation. Many airports and airlines have instituted initiatives to take temperatures and test fliers before and after flights, giving those flying an added sense of security and emotional comfort. We should get used to this as a practice, and while there will always those that bemoan longer lines, I think we all agree we never want to return to a period where there are no lines in the airport at all.

Thank you for joining us on this journey, either as a partner leveraging our TSP & CEA engagements or as a reader of this series. For those that are interested, we’ll be running a webinar on 7th July that will cover the Battlegrounds and the topic of rebuilding passenger confidence during and after the Covid19 pandemic.

Please follow this link to sign up: Loyalty is up for grabs!

David Griffiths,
Head of Insight Fethr
VP Content Black Swan


Raim Islam,
Insight Consultant

Thank you for reading, and for more information or to explore any of the above in any further detail please get in touch with Patrick Prefontaine at patrick.prefontaine@blackswan.com or by using the contact form below.

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