Touring sector ‘likely to bounce back’

Research has revealed that holidaymakers planning touring and adventure getaways in 2021 are prepared to spend more to ensure safety as the sector is “likely to bounce back” long-term.

Mail Metro Media readers were polled earlier this month as part of the media group’s partnership with the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas).

The results, gathered from respondents who all intend to travel in the next three years, were presented by Mail Metro Media’s travel account manager Robertina Tompa on the opening day of Atas’ virtual Touring and Adventure Week on Monday, October 19.

The research found that seven in 10 people were yet to book a 2021 holiday, but that they intend to take an average of 2.1 holidays next year.

Under 34s plan an average of 2.1 holidays, with 27% of that age range intending to take three or more; the 35-54 age group plan 1.9 holidays with 24% hoping for three or more; and the 55+ category plan 2.2 holidays next year, with 35% planning three or more.

Respondents said they would spend an average of £2,200 per person per week on accommodation and flights, with only 20% focused on getting a deal and 40% saying safety was more important.

Results suggested 22% of consumers were happy to spend a bit more in 2021, particularly the younger age group, of whom 27% said they were happy to spend more. Of the 35-54s group, 26% said they would spend more and 12% of the over-55s were prepared to spend more.

According to the survey, the preferred average group size for an escorted tour was nine people.

Tompa said the data showed a “huge appetite for this type of holiday” as results showed 41% of respondents would consider a touring holiday next year, compared to 31% who would not consider one and 28% undecided or unsure.

She said the touring and adventure market is “likely to bounce back” in the long term, but noted the sector faces “concerns” about group travel that “need to be addressed for the recovery process”.

Tompa advised that companies should focus on smaller group sizes, and ensuring social distancing rules were implemented as well as self-guided touring and private tours.

Rail, cruise and coach holidays topped the list of sub-sectors in the touring market for appetite from Mail Metro Media readers, with 64%, 54% and 54% respectively. Tours with outdoor activities, gastronomy and solo travel were all near the bottom of the list with 23% of respondents considering them. Tompa noted that coach was the “most popular touring type pre-Covid” and a “shift towards rail”.

She also noted the “growth opportunity” for domestic tours, when revealing 60% of people would consider a trip to the UK or Ireland next year, second only to Europe, to where 79% of respondents were interested in travelling to.

North America, Australia and New Zealand and the Caribbean were third, fourth and fifth on the list with 44%, 40% and 34% interested respectively. Tompa said the results represented a “cautiousness about being stuck far away from home”. “In the long-term, however, demand for these products is expected to return given the increasing adventurousness of touring customers in the pre-Covid-19 period,” she added.

The survey also showed a demand for well-known but isolated destinations, which Tompa said provided an “opportunity for brands and agents”. It found 14% wanted tours to somewhere ‘populated and lively’ while 42% sought ‘somewhere remote and quiet’. “Consumer want to know they’re safe,” she added.

Convenience, expertise, security and safety were considered the biggest benefits of a group tour in this survey, but Tompa noted that the last time Mail Metro Media conducted research for Atas that value for money and meeting likeminded people were seen as more important.

Readers generally reported that they would like communication from travel brands, with 91% keen to receive updates, 83% agreeing companies should communicate refund policies, 80% saying they’d like to know how firms are protecting customers and 79% saying they’d like to see travel companies show them how to travel safely at this time. “People expect brands to lead,” said Tompa, noting that reassurance a destination is safe is “more important” than the destination itself.

Nearly two thirds (32%) of respondents said they would spend longer researching their holidays. A fifth said they would be booking closer to departure date and 6% said they would be booking earlier than before. Tompa said this represented a “huge opportunity for trusted companies”.

To register for the rest of Virtual Touring and Adventure Week and access full content including exclusive business, networking and social events for free, click here.

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