MYRTLE BEACH, SC—Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Fuel has been conducting a series of studies aimed at gaining insights into the consumer mindset and providing hoteliers with a benchmark for gauging recovery. Fuel recently fielded a third study of North American leisure travelers regarding their perceptions and fears related to travel during the COVID-19 crisis.
In launching the Fuel COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Study Volume 3, Fuel sent out a survey on April 30, and received more than 10,000 responses. For this study installment, the data was broken down by age group (millennials, Gen Xers, boomers), household income (<$50K, $50-100K, >$100K), and location (hot spots).
“As it appears that the U.S. has started a slow recovery, there is still so much uncertainty surrounding timing and demand,” said Stuart Butler, COO of Fuel. “As an industry thought leader, we want to provide information about when consumers will feel comfortable traveling again so that hotels can develop more effective marketing campaigns.”
The study found that millennials consistently answered that they will be more willing to travel sooner than Gen X and boomers, and are less risk-averse. They will also spend less than other age groups. Lower income brackets are likely to spend less than they have in the past, with shorter stays and more affordable properties.
For distances of driving up to two hours, 66% of consumers will be ready to travel within three months of restrictions being lifted, while 36% would be willing to travel within one month vs. 31% in the one-to-three month window. Staying local and driving up to six hours was just under 50% within three months, and flying comprised just 22%.
Those in the greater than $100K bracket are more willing to fly within 12 months at 69%, vs. 53% for the less than $50K and 59% for $50K-$100K group.
For booking their next vacation, 23% of respondents said “after the virus has passed,” 8% said “sometime in 2021,” 19% were still undecided and the rest chose months in 2020. Of those that chose a 2020 date, June was most popular at 12%, followed by May at 11%.
For traveling, 21% chose “after the virus has passed.” and 14% were undecided. June and July were the most popular answer of those that chose a date, at 11% and 12%, respectively.