Deloitte: Traveler Confidence Improves as Vaccines Roll Out

As a global health crisis morphed into an economic one, Deloitte has been conducting a series of weekly surveys, around the U.S. to better understand the interplay between personal safety and economic vulnerability as a driver of purchase decisions and consumer behavior. The most recent iteration (fielded Jan. 22-27) of “Deloitte’s Global State of the Consumer Tracker,” queried at least 1,000 American consumers. As nearly 30 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S., the latest responses show improving travel intentions and increasing consumer activity, pointing to a gradual recovery in the travel sector.

Nearly a year after the pandemic onset, which hit the travel industry harder than most, there’s reason to be optimistic. As more consumers are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine across the U.S., the perceived safety of leisure travel is on the rise.

  • Of those already vaccinated, 53% are likely to spend more on travel in the next four weeks compared to 30% for the overall population.
  • Over the next three months, vaccinated consumers indicate that they are two times more likely to take a domestic flight and 1.7 times more likely to stay in a hotel than the rest.
  • These vaccinated consumers are also more likely to engage in activities such as renting a car (63%) and booking a private accommodation (61%).

“After being virtually homebound for the last year, the vaccine rollout is providing consumers with an increased sense of safety, meaning they are ready to get back on the road and in the air,” said Ramya Murali, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. hospitality leader. “Travel intentions across all categories have increased, which should be welcome news for restaurants, hoteliers, airlines and a host of other consumer and hospitality-focused businesses who have been preparing for this shift with increased safety measures to instill confidence for the long term.”

While travel intentions and activity are starting to rise, consumers are still somewhat cautious and leisure travel plans may not fully return to pre-pandemic levels.

  • Post-pandemic, 35% of consumers say they will eat out less at restaurants than they did prior to COVID-19.
  • Similarly, 37% of consumers say they will fly less often than before the onset of the pandemic, and 36% will have fewer hotel stays.
  • Consumers also indicate that post-pandemic they expect to continue to work from home at a level six times higher than pre-pandemic levels (30% vs. 5% in 2019).
  • However, near-term things are looking up; booking intentions are improving as we head into spring, with 38% expecting to stay in a hotel over the next three months (the highest percentage since the onset of the pandemic).
  • Additionally, nearly one-third (30%) plan on taking a domestic flight in the next quarter, also a pandemic high.

“While this early-spring time period would usually be filled with spring break trips, many upcoming vacations have been canceled, or are in doubt, because of the pandemic,” said Anthony Jackson, principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP and U.S. airlines leader. “However, consumers are beginning to look post-vaccination. With pent-up travel demand, we expect that many consumers look forward to the ability to travel freely, and responsibly, once again.”

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