Most Americans expect to travel same or more when restrictions lift

28 May 2020 3 min. read

Sixty percent of Americans expect to travel the same or more for leisure once travel restrictions lift, according to an Oliver Wyman survey of 4,600 respondents across nine countries. Global travelers are likewise enthusiastic, with 56% expecting to travel the same or more.

Twenty-four percent of American respondents said they would travel more, while 35% said they would travel the same amount as originally planned. Only 4% said they would cancel all planned leisure travel, even when government restrictions lift.

Only 20% of Americans said they are waiting for acquired immunity or a vaccine before traveling, while half said they are simply waiting for a “go-ahead” from their government or the WHO.

Of the American respondents who said they would travel more than planned for leisure, the top rationale was because they were bored from quarantine and need to have fun (42%). Of the 37% who expect to travel less, 46% said they were worried that the pandemic might come back, and 34% were concerned about health protocol on modes of transport and at accommodations.

“Though the timing of the return to travel is dependent on when government authorities deem it safe, the desire to travel is strong and comfort levels are surprisingly high,” said Jessica Stansbury, a partner with Oliver Wyman. “This pent-up demand for leisure travel will spark the initial recovery of the industry.”

56% of global respondents will travel the same or more

US and global travelers were most comfortable with air travel, after personal automobiles. US travelers were more comfortable flying (51%) than using rideshares (25%) or public transportation (23%).

Chinese respondents were most comfortable with flying, followed by Australians and Americans. Italians were least comfortable with air travel, as well as every other mode of transport.

In terms of age divide, those aged between 30-45 were more comfortable flying than younger (18-30) and older (45+) travelers.

The Oliver Wyman study also found that 75% of Americans who fly for business expect to travel the same or more when restrictions are lifted – though the responses don’t consider possible changes to corporate travel policies.

In terms of accommodations, travelers will choose based on cleanliness – something which favors large hotel chains over short-term rentals like Airbnb. Nearly 70% of travelers said they trusted their primary hotel brand’s enhanced cleaning policies.

“There is no longer a middle ground when it comes to cleanliness, and this – combined with the customer experience – will be a key differentiator,” said Bruce Spear, a partner with Oliver Wyman. “Trusted brands define and can ensure a consistent standard, giving them an advantage moving forward. We expect the expansion of the sharing economy to slow as travelers favor brand name hotels or staying with friends and family as opposed to independents and private rentals.”

Travelers prefer domestic travel over international

The survey found that 83% of US respondents would like to stay at a large hotel compared to 61% who would like to say in home rentals.

In terms of where they would travel for their next vacation, most Americans said it would be a domestic location – with 47% selecting an urban domestic location, and 16% tagging a rural domestic area. Only 32% of US respondents said their next leisure trip would be to an international destination.

Chinese (12%), Italian (28%), and Spanish (29%) respondents were the least willing to travel internationally for leisure after restrictions lift. Meanwhile, Brits (54%), Germans (52%), and Canadians (49%) were the most likely to select an international destination for their next trip.