PwC survey reveals traveler concerns

PwC surveyed more than 1,000 consumers nationwide who had taken at least one flight or spent at least one night in a hotel in 2019. Photo credit: Images Plus/Getty Images ( Images Plus/Getty Images)

PwC’s latest “Travelers on the Move Again” consumer survey, which highlights evolving expectations, attitudes and behaviors about travel, shows an increase in traveler confidence after a trip has been taken.

Half of all respondents said they were not concerned with air travel or hotel stays after experiencing the first trip, suggesting that if airlines and hotels can provide a safe and comfortable experience, travelers will be likely to return. 

Click here for all of Hotel Management's COVID-19 coverage

New Priorities

For those travelers, price also now is an increasingly important consideration given their comfort with health and safety protocols—more so than brand loyalty, which is now “in flux.” During the initial phase of the pandemic, consumers associated brand trust with health and safety measures. Now, more than 37 percent said they were likely to switch preferred airlines and 41 percent said they were likely to switch hotels. Almost 40 percent are undecided, making them prime candidates for targeted offers.

Meanwhile, customers who provide the most value to travel providers—high-value customers—are most likely to explore switching brands. More than half (55 percent) said they are extremely or somewhat likely to explore new air travel brands or loyalty programs, and almost 60 percent expressed similar sentiments about hotel programs. PwC found a wide range of reasons for this willingness to shift loyalty, which indicates that travel industry professionals should explore their high-value customers’ brand loyalty in greater depth.

As of July, consumers were just as wary of gathering in large numbers as they were when questioned in April. More than three quarters of respondents also said they would avoid gathering places such as restaurants, lounges, retail stores and other common areas in airports. For the foreseeable future, airport travelers are less likely to linger while shopping, eating, drinking or relaxing between flights. PwC noted the opportunity for touchless digital innovation to keep travelers safe.

Survey respondents also are as cautious as ever about which sources to trust for guidance on public health and safety measures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remains the most trusted source for travelers, with 66 percent of consumers putting their faith in CDC guidelines, compared to 59 percent in April. Meanwhile, faith in government entities and private companies is lower than it was three months ago.

The company surveyed more than 1,000 consumers nationwide during the week of July 8 following an earlier survey conducted in April.