No industry has perhaps been more affected by the swift and serious impact of COVID-19 than travel. The bonds between us will see us through, and in the meantime we have some data that we hope you find valuable as you make decisions.
We surveyed our network of travel and loyalty executives about some of their top concerns on COVID-19, and their perspective on the industry's future rebound.
Which of the follow measures have you implemented for loyalty members?
IHG was the first company to implement status extensions for their China and APAC members in late February. Most other major hotel chains quickly followed suit, including Marriott, Wyndham, Hilton, and Best Western.
Digging deeper, for airlines, by far the most popular measure has been waiving point cancellations, with 50% of airlines saying they had updated their point expiration policies. For hotels, their most popular measure was status extension, enacted by over 60% of hotels. Hotels were also far more likely to offer additional redemption opportunities or bonuses.
Which of the following would you consider your #2 priority (assuming the sudden drop in bookings is your #1 priority)?
No surprises here. Lowered bookings means lowered revenue which means tighter budgets. Hotels were slightly more concerned with their budget - 42% cited it as their top concern, versus 30% for airlines. Airlines were most concerned about escalating travel bans and shelter-in-place orders - 60% cited it as their #2 priority.
As the survey was open for a 4-day period, we saw results begin to skew towards escalating travel bands & government mandates slightly for those who completed the survey later. Respondents on 3/24 were more than twice as likely as those on 3/20.
When do you believe the industry will begin to rebound?
Overwhelmingly, travel and loyalty executives believe that we will see a rebound in 2020, and possibly even within Q2 2020. 68% of hotels, and 70% of airlines believe a return to normalcy will happen in 6 months or less.
Answered remained steady throughout the life of the survey, with respondents just as likely to answer in any of the categories on 3/20 as on 3/24.
We ended the survey with a long form question, and we are excited to share the results with you.
Which leading indicators do you feel will signal a return to normalcy?
#1 Lifting of travel bans or shelter-in-place orders
38% of answers mentioned the lifting or easing of government restrictions.
#2 Bookings or digital KPI's trending upward
31% of responses mentioned specific metrics related to their digital channels, including website traffic, bookings, and cancellation ratios.
#3 Press coverage or publicized statements
21% of responses mentioned the press, or highly publicized statements from major entities. These included things like announcing the reopening of Vegas casinos or Disneyland. Three respondents actually mentioned Disney theme parks specifically.
#4 General economic indicators
18% of responses mentioned the economy, stock market, or consumer discretionary spending.
#5 Reduction in number of infections
14% of responses mentioned the virus specifically, speaking to the number of new cases or vaccine viability.
Whatever your perspective, we know that this is a challenging time for the industry. But we are confident in our resiliency, our resolve, and the world's appetite for incredible travel and hospitality experiences. Stay strong and healthy, and look out for our next survey!