Can travel firms still win customers?

Amelia BrophyHead of Data Products, UK
October 13, 2020, 2:33 PM UTC

Consumers still feel uneasy about travelling but there are some glimpses of respite for the UK travel industry, says YouGov’s Amelia Brophy

Only 11% of Brits plan to travel abroad in the next six months – down from 17% at the start of July. Domestic holidays are more popular, with a third of people (34%) planning a trip over the same period. But a drop of 12 points since July suggests that the end of summer and coronavirus restrictions are dampening demand here too.

But hope is not lost. While few people are booking holidays, YouGov data suggests that even with the current restrictions travel companies can win over more customers with targeted campaigns – and that new policies may make travel more practical.

Airport testing will help – but there is still untapped potential

Two thirds of Brits (64%) are willing to take a coronavirus test at the airport when returning to the UK. This might soon be reality, with the Government indicating that trials could start at Heathrow in weeks. But previous delays with testing and the Track and Trace programme suggest it’s still too early to celebrate.

In the meantime, about half of Brits (48%) say they would be willing to take a test upon arrival and self-isolate for a day while waiting for the results. This means that sunny destinations like the Azores and Madeira are an option that may have slipped under the radar. 

Crucially, a third of the public (32%) are still willing to travel to destinations that would require them to quarantine for two weeks when returning. People aged 65 and older and 18- to 24-year-olds are actually equally happy to self-isolate, both at 35%. Those aged 50 to 64 are the least willing (26%).

Self-isolating for a week at the destination is non-negotiable for most people, however. Only one in six (17%) would sacrifice a week of their holiday in quarantine, while 11% would be happy to give up two weeks.  

Who should you target for international travel?

The people who still feel confident to travel abroad even as new waves of coronavirus make even short-term planning difficult provide an insight into who the industry should be targetting. These consumers are more likely to be younger, male and professionals.

One in six 18- to 24-year-olds (16%) have travel plans, compared with only 8% of those aged 65 and older. And while 14% of men expect to go on holiday, this is only true for 9% of women.

Londoners are more confident, with a fifth (19%) expecting to go abroad in the next six months. Social grade matters too: 14% of ABC1s, who tend to be professionals, have travel plans. This compares with 8% of C2DEs, who often do manual work. This could be because ABC1s are more likely to be able to work from home, meaning it’s less of an issue if they unexpectedly have to quarantine when coming to the UK.

See the full results here 

This article previously appeared in Travel Weekly