After my first experience traveling, I was inquisitive about what people’s perception is about traveling during COVID-19 times. Therefore, I decided to generate a COVID Travel Survey and distribute it to people from different nationalities. My main objective was to understand if the perception was similar or had significant variations depending on the participants’ regions.
COVID Travel Survey — What It Is About
The survey consisted of nine questions that we will see in detail during the post and one question regarding country of origin.
Before going to the detail about how the survey was conducted, I have to say I was surprised to see the different opinions and made me very happy to see that more people than I expected are willing to travel under what we all call ‘the new normal’. This, of course, under the precautions and security measures required to stay safe and healthy.
52 Participants From 18 Countries And Four Continentes
We had fifty-two participants from Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Tanzania, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, and the USA.
We will go through each of the questions and the specific answers that will provide us a hint of what travelers from different nationalities are thinking:
COVID Travel Survey — Question 1
Now that some countries are open, are you willing to travel to these destinations in the short-term?
From what we can see from this specific question, is that 67,5% of the participants are willing to travel. However, there’s still 32,5% that prefer not to consider traveling until in the short-term.
COVID Travel Survey — Question 2
Assuming all restrictions are removed, how far are you willing to travel?
a) Not Planning on Travelling
b) Only Domestic
c) Neighboring Countries
Now, I have to say this one positively surprised me even more. Even though there are still cautious people about traveling, once restrictions are removed entirely, our world travelers are willing to go as far as possible.
More than 52% of participants mentioned the interest of traveling intercontinental.
The 22% chose neighboring countries for more conservative travelers, followed by continental travel with 10% and 7,5% for each domestic traveling and no travel plans. By this result, we can assume or have an insight that part one the decision from the 30% that are not considering traveling in the short term can depend on the destinations’ availability. Again, this is just an assumption.
Now moving forward to our third question, I can say the answers are a bit more equally distributed. This question is related to the time travelers are considering waiting before making their next trip.
COVID Travel Survey — Question 3
If you’re willing to travel any time soon, how long (estimate in months) do you consider waiting?
a) 1 month
b) < 1 month
c) 1 month > x < 6 months
d) > 6 months
As we can see in this case, the majority, approximately 40%, of our respondents are willing to wait between one to six months to reinitiate their travels. Some more reserved, around 22% prefer to wait more than six months, or don’t have clear the times to travel again. Only 3% or our participants consider traveling in less than a month, and approximately 12% will consider making a trip within the next month.
COVID Travel Survey — Question 4
Are you considering traveling by
e) Other (Please specify)
This is when it becomes even more interesting, and I believe the answers here varied depending on the participants’ location. In this case, the participants could select more than one option at the same time.
Out of 52 respondents, 46 indicated they are willing to travel by car, 26 said they are ready to travel by train. I believe this option strongly depends on location. For example, for countries located in Latin America and Africa (36% of our participants), this option is much more limited. The rail system in these regions is not as available as it is for Europe and Asia.
Additionally, 40 are willing to travel by airplane, and only 3 are willing to travel by Cruise. Other options, such as bus, ferry, or others, are not mentioned in the other options.
COVID Travel Survey — Question 5
What would be the main factor that influences your decision?
b) Safety against virus
c) Flexibility to Changes or Cancellations
d) Others (Please specify)
We also decided to ask the participants what was the factor that would influence their decision to travel. Two reasons predominating, the first one corresponds to the safety against the virus, with around 40% of the participants.
However, we can see that 30% of the participants are influenced by the flexibility of canceling or rescheduling in case the situation changes.
This is a vital insight for the tourism industry. Before COVID-19, rescheduling and cancellation policies have always been very strict and/expensive. With the current situation, hotels and transport companies should re-think to generate more confidence for travelers.
Price Still Is An Important Factor For 20%
On the other hand, we can see that around 20% would consider traveling based on the price. Finally, in the other category, we came through fascinating answers, which correspond to 10% of the participants. Factors such as destination, or family are relevant for some of our travelers. There’s one that caught my attention as it mentions the company not paying salary in case of testing positive due to travel. Governments consider that travelers who get sick during their trip are forced to do unpaid quarantine in some countries. If this is the case, travelers would be influenced by the decision, decreasing their willingness to proceed with their plans.
The next question corresponds to safety equipment for traveling. We decided to ask our travelers if airlines providing the necessary elements would influence their travel decision.
COVID Travel Survey — Question 6
Would the fact of an airline providing safety equipment influence your decision when selecting the airline for your trip?
As we can see here, 53,85% of the participants indicated that safety equipment provided by the airline will, in fact, will influence their decision, while the remaining 46,15% indicated that they wouldn’t be affected by this fact.
We could see the regions with a higher number of participants saying ‘yes’ correspond to Latin America while most ‘no’ correspond to Europe. Based on my experience in the Latin American market, I believe that the concept of full carriers providing all comfort and services to travelers is still influential in the cultural mindset. Don’t get me wrong, Low-cost airlines are being highly welcome in the Latin American market, especially during the last 5 years. However, it required time for travelers to get used to the new offer in the market, paying cheap flights, and paying additional to receive the services once they had for granted.
My Personal Experience
Based on my recent travel experience, I saw most of the passengers had all the materials. However, on one occasion, the airline indicated a specific type of mask one of the passengers was using was not allowed by the airline. I remember in the specifications no particular kind of mask was mentioned, and therefore, on this occasion, the passenger was not doing anything against the rules. Some questions emerged in my mind as I thought to myself, how can the airline help the passenger solve this situation if he’s actually following the rules by wearing a mask, and it was not specified which masks types are allowed. Therefore, I wanted to know what travelers are considering regarding the safety equipment if they consider bringing it themselves or expecting the airlines to also solve this situation for them.
COVID Travel Survey — Question 7
When traveling by plane, are you…
a) Considering bringing your own safety supplies (mask, gloves, antibacterial)
b) Expecting safety supplies to be provided by the airline for free, even if this implies an increase in ticket price
c) Buying the safety items in-flight if provided as an additional service
d) Not changing your traveling habits
Bring Your Own Equipment
As observed, almost 77% of our participants are considering bringing their equipment themselves. This implies that if some mask types or safety equipment are not allowed on board, the airline is obliged to clearly specify this information to the customer in advance, either at the moment of buying the ticket and at check-in. The alternative of informing the customer at the gate is not viable, as the customer risks not being allowed to board the flight due to misinformation. Luckily for this passenger, the crew had some extra masks to provide the passenger to change the one he was wearing.
Almost 77% of our participants are considering bringing their equipment themselves.
Additionally, only 2,5% of the participants confirmed they were willing to buy the airline’s safety equipment as an additional service, which provides us hints that this won’t be an extra revenue generator for the airlines.
The next question is related to the feeling of safety during the journey. What other features in the airports and planes would help passengers or potential travelers regain confidence in traveling?
COVID Travel Survey — Question 8
What would make you feel safer in the different steps of your entire journey? (More than one option possible)
a) Requirement of immunity/ vaccine certificate – COVID-19
b) Medical checks at the airport even if this implies arriving 3-4 hours previous to departure
c) Disinfection Tunnels
d) Seats assigned by agents to guarantee appropriate distancing
e) Denied boarding if not passing successfully medical check
f) In-flight cleaning staff guaranteeing constant cleaning in the journey
g) Other (please specify)
Almost 37 participants out of 52 coincide that a denied boarding to passengers with potential risk after a prior medical check would provide them trust to travel again. However, this would imply either airport medical checks or a doctor’s certificate within the 24hrs before the travel.
The next factor with the highest respondents, 31 that would provide more confidence to the travelers is the fact of persons assigning the passengers in the plane to guarantee enough distance within the different travelers. This would be an excellent option for flights with lower occupation and should, of course, be taken into account.
Disinfection Tunnels And Vaccine Certificate
The next solution with 29 participants was regarding disinfection tunnels within some airport sections, followed by vaccine certificate and in-flight cleaning, each with 28 participants. Last but not least, we also had a medical check at the airport. For this option, 24 participants agreed this option would make them feel safer, which would mean for others, the possibility of bringing an approved certificate for boarding could be considered a better choice.
Now for the other options, which are always very interesting to consider, such as re-enforcement and control from the crew to guarantee passengers wear masks, household allocation within the seat assignation, there was one that I considered very important. Applying legal consequences to those passengers who deny following the rules. As we have seen in the news, in some flights, passengers refuse to wear masks, are rude to the crew and passengers who request them to wear the safety equipment, and refuse to follow any of the safety regulations. Therefore, these actions should be regulated and penalized by either the company or the government authorities.
Our last question is concerning the actual plans our participants had for traveling in 2020. Many of us had booked trips, family visits, friends destination weddings that had to be postponed or canceled due to the Corona Virus.
COVID Travel Survey — Question 9
With the trips, you have planned for this year, did you:
a) Postponed them with a newly defined date
b) Consider postponing with open date
c) Canceled the trip entirely
As we can see in this case, there was a very tight distribution between the options. 36% of the participants canceled their trip entirely, while 33% decided to postpone the journey with a new defined date. The remaining 31% chose to consider postponing the trip with no specific date defined.
As mentioned before, more people than I expected are willing to start their journey, and this gives me hope that the travel industry will recover by providing the travelers the confidence they need. We can also see that the perception changes based on region only for specific transportation mode situations, but not concerning travel behaviors.
It is impressive to see the different perceptions around the world; I was excited to see so many nationalities participating and how it influences travel decisions. To all of our participants, thank you for your time and for sharing your opinions with us.
What Do You Think?
And you, are you also ready to travel under the ‘new normal’? Looking forward to seeing your opinions.