Now, with businesses opening, researches examine industries and sectors hit hardest by the pandemic – including airlines, hotels, restaurants, public transportation, rideshare and car buying – to see what measures they need to consider adopting for a successful reopening. More than 11,000 consumers across 11 countries were asked to help understand what will make them feel better – and safer – when they travel, dine out, or commute. And what will it take for these businesses to bounce back?
There is a cautious level of optimism when it comes to people taking to the skies again. Of those who normally flew – pre-pandemic – just about everyone (98%) reports they will fly again eventually.
However, opinions vary on whether people will feel comfortable doing so as soon as restrictions are lifted, with 30% not feeling comfortable at all about doing so and only just over a quarter (26%) feeling totally or very comfortable returning as soon as they are allowed. Not surprisingly, given their countries’ relative success in combatting the pandemic, Germans (34%), Chinese (34%) and Australians (30%) are most enthusiastic about returning right away. All other countries we studied are clustered at around a quarter being ready (22%-28%) except for Singapore, most reluctant at 15%.
The move to eliminate food service and onboard entertainment is not as reassuring for travelers as other practices, which is interesting considering that discontinuing food and/or beverage services has been prominently mentioned as a safety measure for those airlines considering reopening. Mask-wearing is in the middle of the pack of our surveying for providing comfort, as are seat covers and electronic check-ins – perhaps because travelers believe the check-in process is primarily electronic already.
Alongside the reduction in air travel has been a drop in hotel visits and stays. When asked whether they will return the results are very similar for hotel returns and resumption of air travel. Nearly seven in ten leisure hotel users report that they would be uncomfortable staying in a hotel immediately after any travel restrictions are lifted. This is consistent across countries, ranging from 79% in Singapore and 75% in Italy to 61% in Germany and 62% in the Netherlands.
To make guests feel more comfortable, hotel owners will need to provide cleaning and sterilizing equipment within the rooms. Almost half of leisure travelers said this would make them feel very much or a lot more comfortable, more so than simply allowing guests access to internal cleaning records.
Three in four people (76%) were thinking of taking a vacation in 2020 before the pandemic, ranging from a high of 86% in Spain and 82% in Italy to a low of 68% in Australia. Perhaps surprisingly, more than half of everyone we asked (57%) are still planning to take a vacation this year. In France for example, 78% were planning to take a vacation before the pandemic, and the percentage drops only modestly to 71% of people saying that now. It appears that, having suffered through months of lockdown and seeing countries opening, many people are weighing the mental health and wellbeing benefits of vacations against the continuing risk of infection, and choosing the former while proceeding with caution due to the latter.
Most people (84%) have modified their vacation plans because of the pandemic. The most common adjustment is to avoid travelling overseas – almost four in 10 (39%) will stay in their own country. The numbers who intend to stay in their home country vary significantly, being higher in Italy (52%), China (51%) and Spain (48%), countries who have been living with the situation for longer than others, and in Australia, where travelling almost anywhere outside the country involves a lengthy trip by air.
Prior to the pandemic, public transportation by rail – local subways, and commuter and longdistance passenger trains – was part of our everyday work and personal lives. Globally, across all 11 countries, seven out of 10 consumers traveled by train, with a high of 96% in China and a low of 41% in the USA. A total of nearly three in ten (31%) used rail services more than a fair amount, with 8% using them all the time, 12% very often and 12% saying “a lot.”
Today, with the onset of the pandemic and national lockdowns of varying degrees in place, the number of people traveling by rail has dropped, with the UK in particular down to less than 5% of normal levels. This is driven, in large part, by many more people working from home (75%, as reported in Dynata’s Changing Work Models report in May), maintaining social distancing and only making essential journeys for groceries and the like. And even with the recent development of cities entering the early phases of reopening, expectations remain low of a return to pre-pandemic travel rates; in New York City, for example, transit officials expect only 15% of regular riders to return as the city cautiously reopens. As lockdown eases around the world people are returning to public transportation. The survey reveals a little under 60% recovery of passenger numbers in terms of those using services at least “a lot.”
During the pandemic, around four in 10 of those who used to ride in taxis or Ubers are saying they no longer do so. Thirty nine percent of those who used to ride as the only passenger are no longer doing this now, ranging from a high of 53% in the UK to a low of 16% in China. For those who use to ride with others, in an “Uber pool” type arrangement with strangers in the car, 37% of those are no longer doing so.
Prior to the pandemic eight out of 10 participants reported dining out at a “fine dining” restaurant – that is, one that has a higher quality of food, atmosphere and service – at least rarely. Half classified themselves as doing so “occasionally” or “often” with 13% choosing “often”. By country, this ranged from a high in Italy (90% ever, 25% often) to a low in Germany (55% ever, only 7% often). Overall, out of all who ever use such restaurants, two thirds are in the core market of “often” or “occasional” use.
Lockdowns hit the fine-dining (and restaurant) sector particularly hard in many countries, but as of early June 2020 these establishments beginning to re-open. Nearly six in 10 Italians report fine dining restaurant open in their area, and half of Dutch and French participants also report their restaurants are open. Approximately a third of Americans, Germans, Spaniards and Australians reported their restaurants were open; only the UK and Singapore (at 6% and 8% respectively) remain in near total lockdown.
Prior to the pandemic over nine out of 10 participants were ever using casual dining restaurants (those with moderate prices, faster service and a casual atmosphere) at all. A quarter reported having used them “often” with just under a half saying “occasionally.” This ranged from highs in China (97% ever, 34% often) and Spain (95% ever, 34% often) to a low in the Netherlands (84% ever, 12% often).
Today, outside of the UK and Singapore, casual dining restaurants are largely open for business. Spain has the highest percentage reporting they are open at 76%, followed by 75% in Italy and China, and Germany at 74%. France, the Netherlands and Australia are just behind at 69%, 67% and 67% respectively; in the USA the figure is 56%, and Canada is at 40%. Even in Singapore a third (34%) report casual dining restaurants are open, compared to just 12% in the UK.
Almost nine out of 10 used fast food dine-in restaurants at all pre-pandemic, with two thirds of them “often” or occasionally” patronizing these establishments.
Today, one half of all participants report these types of restaurants are open in their area, with highest numbers in Italy (72%), China (68%) and Spain (61%). Once again, UK restaurants are the most “locked down,” with just 11% reporting these restaurants as open. Usage, where open, is low at a third.
Research shows that people have similar intentions to buy cars as they did before the pandemic but are delaying the decision. For example, 71% (pre-pandemic) intended to buy a car in the next 12 months, this figure is now 61%. Intention to purchase between June and September 2020 was 19%, now it is 15%.
The MaCorr Team