MUMBAI: Thomas Cook India, India’s leading integrated travel services company, and its Group company, SOTC Travel, surveyed over 2700 customers across India’s Tier 1 & 2 cities in a recent survey to identify emerging consumer behaviors and trends that will drive travel preferences during the COVID era. The companies have released key findings in their Second Holiday Readiness Report (December 2020). In comparison to the survey conducted by the companies in May 2020, the data reveals a significant increase in consumer confidence in travel.
Confidence in travel on the upswing – Indians display a strong appetite for holidays: A combination of lockdown fatigue and strong pent-up demand, coupled with positive sentiment due to announcements on the vaccine saw 89% respondents displaying keen interest to resume travel; 11% are unsure/undecided.
Preferred travel period: 67% of respondents are willing to travel in the next 6 months while 33% indicated that they would wait for the launch of the vaccine.
Mode of Travel: 71% of respondents displayed confidence in air travel and this has been substantiated by the increased demand for flight-inclusive packages at both companies. While short driveable holidays were preferred post lockdown, only 29% of respondents now show a preference for road travel.
Domestic and International Travel – both in Demand: 52% of respondents stated that they are likely to take a domestic holiday. Preferred destinations in India include Goa (38%); Himachal Pradesh (29%); Ladakh & Kerala (20%); North East (19%), Kashmir & Andamans (15%).
Given the easing of travel restrictions, international destinations are seeing an upward demand trajectory with 48% of respondents likely to take an international holiday. Europe tops the leader-board at 58%; favored destinations include Switzerland, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. This is followed by a strong interest in short-haul destinations (50%) such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Maldives, Indonesia. Australia & New Zealand (25%) also feature well, followed by the Americas (19%).
Health & Safety continues to take top priority in travel decisions: Respondents continue to display an increasing focus on hygiene and safety – with 93% of respondents highlighting this as the most important factor while deciding a holiday. Noteworthy: An increase of 18% observed from the 75% reported in the First Holiday Readiness Travel Report (May 2020).
Willingness to Increase Spends basis Health & Safety: 73% of respondents said that they are willing to increase spends to ensure higher levels of health & safety on their holiday – a significant 38% increase from the First Holiday Readiness Travel Report (May 2020).
Clear Preference for reputed travel brands/tour operators, hotels: A sizeable 84% of respondents (a 12% increase from the last survey) stated their strong preference for reputed travel companies, hotels, etc.
Indians display an increased appetite for holiday spends: Signalling positivity for the industry as a whole, 75% of respondents are willing to spend above Rs. 1 lakh per person on their holidays.
Group Size: 85% of respondents indicated that they prefer solo-travel / as a couple / with family and friends – a 22% increase from the First Holiday Readiness Travel Report (May 2020). 15% of respondents prefer traveling as a group of 20+ travelers.
Duration of Holiday – Indians seek longer holidays: In the absence of their annual summer vacation and short breaks this year, Indians are opting for a longer duration of stay – with 74% of respondents preferring a holiday of 4-10 nights, followed by 16% preferring 10+ nights and merely 10% opting for a short break of up to 3 nights.
Booking Channels – Indians need a human interface for guidance/reassurance in today’s COVID-19 era: Given the prevailing uncertainty, a significant 71% of respondents stated that they require guidance from a holiday expert and preferred to visit an outlet/Virtual Store/video chat while planning their holidays. In comparison, merely 29% selected the website/app as their preferred booking channel.
(Respondents were given a few questions with multiple options, hence percentages may not add up to 100%)
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