‘Travel boom’ forecast following Aito customer research

Four out of five Aito members’ customers are “keen to travel” and a significant proportion has holidays booked or intend to book by January, according to research on behalf of the specialist travel association.

The strength of demand revealed by responses in the first week of a month-long consumer tracker of Aito customers’ travel intentions led the consultant heading the research to forecast “a travel boom”.

Roy Barker, co-founder of market research firm Spike Insight, declared “intent to travel is hardening” as he reported 82% of close to 2,000 respondents in the initial phase of the tracker “keen to travel”.

Addressing Aito’s autumn general meeting in London, Barker noted 13% of respondents were ‘not keen’ and 5% ‘unsure’ and suggested: “With the right communications, they could look to book too.”

He argued: “The creeping normality should make more people confident.”

Barker said the research suggested “domestic holidays will retain a strong appeal next year”.

When Aito member customers were asked their domestic holiday intentions for 2022, 49% said they would take ‘more’ domestic holidays than this year, 38% the same and only 13% ‘less’.

However, the tracker found three-quarters of respondents also intend to take at least one overseas short-haul holiday in 2022.

When asked how likely they were to book a domestic, overseas short-hall or long-haul holiday, 79% said a domestic holiday, 75% short-haul and 34% long haul.

Barker reported 28% of respondents intending to take a short-haul holiday had already booked, as had 32% of the smaller proportion intending to take a long-haul trip.

A further 33% of respondents planning a short-haul holiday intended to book by January and another one in four (26%) to book between February and April.

Barker said: “Many people have money burning holes in their pockets. Many in the core over-50s Aito market have saved money [during the pandemic].”

Respondents were asked how they used money they would normally have spent on travel during the Covid crisis. One third (33%) said they had saved it for future travel.

Barker told Aito members: “Imagine a market where people come flooding back and one third have more to spend. I’m confident in a travel boom.”

He noted the tracker reflects “intention, sentiment” and said: “It’s not necessarily going to happen. [But] it indicates people are persuadable.”

Barker added: “The market has been trained over the last 18 months to expect things to go wrong.

“We’ve seen major changes and it may take a time for people to get used to the changes. Be the experts. There is a lot of good will towards travel business out there.”

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