A Gallup poll of US consumers suggests a majority are concerned about exposure to Covid when travelling and two thirds will not board a flight for at least six months.
The poll of more than 15,000 US adults this summer found 82% concerned about exposure to coronavirus on aircraft and 77% concerned about exposure when at an airport
Two-thirds (68%) were not planning to fly at all in the next six months
Almost as many (63%) were concerned about exposure in hotels, with 54% planning to avoid hotels for the next six months.
The results suggested a lack of trust in other passengers was driving concern and, leading Gallup to propose that “greater enforcement by travel and hospitality companies” could restore consumer confidence.
The survey found 50% of business travellers with no plans to travel would not trust fellow hotel guests to follow health and safety policies.
The proportion was lower at 37% among business travellers planning at least one trip in the next six months.
But trust levels among leisure travellers were worse – 56% of those with no plans to travel would not trust fellow guests to follow the rules, against 43% of those planning a trip.
Gallup polled consumers’ reactions to a range of actions airlines, airports and hotels could take to restore confidence.
It reported hygienic housekeeping practices scored highly but were “now seen as prerequisites”.
But it concluded: “Enforcing the wearing of masks, distancing and screening are key drivers of trust.”
Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said that if airports required all passengers to wear masks and that staff enforced this, it would make them more likely to travel.
The same proportion (75%) said enforcement of mask wearing and other measures by airlines would make them more likely to fly.
Face masks continue to be the subject of political controversy in the US.
The poll found the reputation of an airline or hotel was important. Four out of five respondents (80%) said they would be more likely to fly if an airline had a “good reputation” regardless of whether they had flown with the airline before.
At the same time, reduced prices or loyalty schemes had much less effect on consumers’ willingness to fly or stay in a hotel.
Marco Nink, Gallup regional research and analytics lead for Europe, said: “Consumer confidence in the travel and hospitality sectors has been hammered by the coronavirus.
“While travel restrictions and quarantine policies are having the most influence at the moment, there are steps airlines, airports and hotels can be taking to restore consumer confidence.
“A key factor is that travellers don’t trust their fellow passengers and guests.”
He said: “As well as following the recommendations on masks and distancing, airlines, airports and hotels should be enforcing these measures.
“These steps, more than cheaper flights and rooms, can bolster consumer confidence and bring more passengers and guests back to the travel sector sooner.”
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