Survey Shows Travelers Want Environmentally Friendly Air Options

As the airline industry begins its recovery in the wake of the coronavirus, it would be well served to pay heed to travelers ever-increasing concerns about sustainability issues.

In January and February – just prior to the COVID-19 crisis becoming a global pandemic – OAG, a global data provider, surveyed more than 2,000 travelers on sustainability issues.

According to the survey, 56 percent of all travelers and 50 percent of business travelers would consider switching their preferred airline if there were “more environmentally friendly options available.” Interestingly, that number was even higher for millennials (68 percent).

Similarly, 54 percent of all travelers – and 69 percent of millennials –would be more likely to “use a travel site to plan and book travel if they received sustainability-related information to help inform purchases.”

Many respondents said they would be willing to “explore new options to reduce their own carbon footprint.” Sixty-six percent said they would be willing to accept fewer daily flights with larger aircraft if it resulted in fewer carbon emissions, and 50 percent said they be willing to change to a “greener mode of transportation, even it if took longer than the typical flight.”

Fifty percent said they would be willing to increase their travel time by 50 percent for a greener mode of transportation, and 59 percent said they would be willing to increase their total travel time by two hours or more. Forty-four percent of business travelers said they would willing to increase their total travel time by two hours or more.

On the subject of airfare, 36 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay up to 10 percent more for “flights that had a smaller impact than other similar flight options.” Eight percent said they would pay up to 25 percent more; two percent said they’d pay up to 50 percent more; 54 percent said they would not be willing to pay more.

Travelers’ sustainability concerns go beyond the airline industry. “Consumers expect the entire travel ecosystem – especially OTAs and travel search engines – to be more transparent about the sustainability impact of various travel options,” the survey stated.

When asked what information, “if made available,” would influence their booking decisions, 32 percent of all travelers and 42 percent of millennial travelers said data on a flight’s environmental impact/carbon emissions. Thirty-nine percent of all travelers and 55 percent of millennials said data on an airline’s environmental impact/carbon emissions, and 26 percent of all travelers and 35 percent of millennials said data on an airport’s environmental impact.

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Survey Shows Travelers Dreaming About Travel, Cautious About Planning

As Americans remain under stay-at-home orders around the country, it can sometimes be hard to imagine a world where tourism returns to normal. However, surveys continue to show that Americans can’t wait to travel again and that pent-up demand is building.

Research from advertising company BVK not only provides insight into how Americans are feeling about taking vacations, but also the marketing that will and won’t be effective when selling them on traveling again.

Many Americans viewed the tourism industry response favorably, and the BVK survey found that those planning a future trip were the most likely to view the response to the spread of COVID-19 as appropriate.

Americans are also planning to travel again. This survey revealed that eight in 10 U.S. travelers are currently planning, thinking or dreaming about travel. A majority also said that they feel travel will be safe after the restrictions are lifted.

Nearly 46 percent said they would return to their typical travel behaviors after a few weeks. Just over 34 percent said that it would take between a few months to more than a year to return to normal.

Interestingly, younger people were more likely to view travel as unsafe after the restrictions are lifted but were still likely to return to their normal travel behavior quicker than other age groups.

More than 37 percent said that they would pursue out-of-state travel and almost 35 percent said that they would travel in-state only.

One of the things that will change after the coronavirus outbreak is what travelers will want to do when travel restrictions are lifted. The BVK research found that “social distancing” activities will be most popular, including road trips, beach vacations, outdoor adventures, and remote/rural destinations. At least to start, big cities, festivals, cruises and group tours will be a harder sell.

For now, too, selling is not something that Americans are looking for.

About half of U.S. travelers (52 percent) said that they only want to see travel advertising that is addressing their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 48 percent said that they feel it is insensitive for travel companies and destinations to advertise right now.

That doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t dreaming of travel.

Four in 10 (42 percent) said that even now, they like to see advertising for vacation destinations, meaning those thinking about marketing to travelers should be plan campaigns that are sensitive to the way Americans are feeling.

Americans who are either currently planning a future trip, thinking about future travel or dreaming about travel all are more likely to said that, even now, they like to see advertising for vacation destinations compared to those who have put all thinking of travel on hold.

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