Thomas Cook India 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 behaviours 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 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 per cent respondents displaying keen interest to resume travel; 11 per cent are unsure/undecided.
Preferred travel period: 67 per cent respondents are willing to travel in the next six months while 33 per cent indicated that they would wait for launch of the vaccine.
Mode of Travel: 71 per cent respondents displayed confidence in air travel and this has been substantiated by the increased demand for flight-inclusive packages at both the companies. While short driveable holidays were preferred post lockdown, only 29 per cent respondents now show preference for road travel.
Domestic and International Travel – both in Demand: 52 per cent of respondents stated that they are likely to take a domestic holiday. Preferred destinations in India include Goa (38 per cent); Himachal Pradesh (29 per cent); Ladakh & Kerala (20 per cent); North East (19 per cent), Kashmir & Andamans (15 per cent).
Given easing of travel restrictions, international destinations are seeing an upward demand trajectory with 48 per cent of respondents likely to take an international holiday. Europe tops the leader-board at 58 per cent; favoured destinations include Switzerland, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. This is followed by strong interest for short haul destinations (50 per cent) such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Maldives, Indonesia.
Australia & New Zealand (25 per cent) also feature well, followed by Americas (19 per cent).
Health & Safety continues to take top priority in travel decisions: Respondents continue to display an increasing focus on hygiene and safety - with 93 per cent respondents highlighting this as the most important factor while deciding a holiday. Noteworthy: An increase of 18 per cent observed from the 75 per cent reported in the First Holiday Readiness Travel Report (May 2020).
Willingness to Increase Spends basis Health & Safety: 73 per cent 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 per cent respondents (a 12 per cent increase from the last survey) stated their strong preference for reputed travel companies, hotels, etc.
Indians display increased appetite for holiday spends: Signalling positivity for the industry as a whole, 75 per cent of respondents are willing to spend above Rs. 1 lakh per person on their holidays.
Group Size: 85 per cent respondents indicated that they prefer solo-travel / as a couple / with family and friends – a 22 per cent increase from the First Holiday Readiness Travel Report (May 2020). 15 per cent respondents prefer travelling as a group of 20+ travellers.
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 per cent respondents preferring a holiday of 4-10 nights, followed by 16 per cent preferring 10+ nights and merely 10 per cent opting for a short break of up to 3 nights.
Booking Channels - Indians need human interface for guidance/reassurance in today’s COVID-19 era: Given the prevailing uncertainty, a significant 71 per cent respondents stated that they require guidance of a holiday expert and preferred to visit an outlet/Virtual Store/video chat while planning their holidays. In comparison merely 29 per cent selected website/app as their preferred booking channel.