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What changing consumer travel preferences mean for travel companies in 2022

It’s not hard to imagine how much consumer travel preferences and habits have changed over the last two years. The pandemic era has led to consumers acting in different ways when it comes to their travel preferences and habits around booking travel.

We conducted a censuswide survey which asked 1000 people in the UK some questions to help understand how travel is shaping up for 2022. Quite unsurprisingly, 80% of British consumers are more likely to consider a flexible travel policy since the coronavirus outbreak. This can be seen as a normal reaction, as cancellations and rebookings are becoming more common. Similarly, a staggering 84% of consumers say they expect all travel companies to be open and transparent about their booking policies.

Britain’s plans for travel in 2022.

Despite the new challenges involved when travelling, Brits are well known for their love of it. 42% of respondents claimed that they will travel internationally within the next year, with 30% expecting to leave the UK 2-3 times. When looking at travellers aged 16-24, a whopping 91% claimed that they plan to travel internationally in the next year. Clearly the signs point towards the younger generation feeling more ready to venture out than their seniors. This is most likely due to the nature of COVID-19, and how it is more destructive to the older generations, plus maybe a dose of young reckless abandon towards travel.

In good news for the airline industry, over 50% said that they would look to travel by plane in the upcoming year, which will be welcome news after being hit so hard. In comparison, only 15% would look to go on a cruise within the next year. And while the numbers may seem low for cruises, they’re numbers that indicate a growing optimism for a world returning to normalcy. After all, cruise ships were some of the heaviest hit by the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020. This small, but not miniscule number shows promise that there will be a bounce back for this sector as well.

How the industry needs to adapt.

Travel companies have been put through the ringer these last few years, with consumers becoming skeptical towards them. In part, the frustration is very understandable, as consumers normally don’t have to demand refunds in an industry that just works, however there was a lack of preparation for such an event. But let’s face it, nobody was prepared for what perspired. The fact still stands that 61% of Brits agree that travel companies need to win back their trust after experiencing inflexible bookings since the pandemic. This same apprehension can be felt throughout the entire travel industry, with hotels, vacation rental businesses and airlines most likely facing similar challenges.

Prior to the pandemic, flexibility never sat quite as high on the list of travel considerations, but has now skyrocketed in importance. This becomes all the more evident with more than two thirds (68%) of UK consumers saying they will read the small print when booking travel, more than ever before. Flexibility is without doubt the single most important challenges for all of the aforementioned industries to tackle going into 2022. Especially when considering that the bulk of their bookings are likely to be 16-24 year olds. Digital masters who won’t settle for any archaic solution. Again, with 80% of British consumers being more likely to consider a flexible travel policy since the coronavirus outbreak, it’s of great importance that they’re offered the flexibility they desire. A key part of this flexibility is being able to get a refund, and quickly.

70% stated that they would expect an instant refund in the event of a cancellation, with 63% willing to accept a rebooking. Only a paltry 21% would be willing to accept a voucher. The importance of refund speed for the post-pandemic traveller is a differentiator that will soon become an industry standard. 

Did this blog whet your appetite to know more about UK travel preferences  in 2022?
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