A ‘Consumer Sentiment Index Report’ of Mumbaikar’s released by leading loyalty and rewards programme InterMiles, has revealed that the pandemic may have closed borders, but the aspiration and intent to travel in the near future still remains high.
The report introduced to identify trends that matter and enrich the industry’s understanding around the always evolving consumer need and behavior, showcases insights and changing consumption patterns around travel is based on responses received from more than 7,500 InterMilers across India; of whom close to 1,300 respondents are from Mumbai.
Corroborating the revenge travel trend forecasted by travel experts and backing the government’s Vocal for Local initiative, 67% respondents said they would look at travelling domestically within the next 6 months, while 8% were ready to pack their bags within a month itself.
Only 16% respondents were wary of travelling within India, with 11% saying they would not cross domestic borders without a vaccine, and a meagre 5% saying that travel was not currently on their minds.
With Mumbaikars already undertaking safe hyperlocal travel and exploring local communities as they look to beat away lockdown blues and enjoy a refreshing breather, we can expect domestic travel to further pick-up pace as state and district borders increasingly open up.
On the international front, a majority of the respondents (41%) expressed hesitation when it came to travel, with 33% opting not to travel until there’s a vaccine, and 8% saying they do not have international travel on their mind.
However, even though most international borders are currently closed or have restricted transit, 31% respondents expressed interest in travelling internationally within the next 6 months. An almost equal percentage of respondents – 29%, would rather hold off travel currently, and consider it in the next 6 to 12 months.
This hesitation regarding travel in the near future can be attributed to the current ambiguity and rapidly changing nature of travel policies and norms, across countries. Travellers would rather travel at a later stage once there is a clarity with regards to the exact nature of travel bubbles, visa policies and a certain level of assurance and confidence of not having to return mid-transit or being stranded in a foreign nation.
WHAT ARE THEIR REASONS TO CONSIDER TRAVELLING?
Business related travel and leisure travel with family stood out as the 2 main factors respondents would consider travelling for, whether domestic or international.
While business travel was always expected to be amongst the first to recover, 38% respondents want to travel domestically and 50% want to travel internationally for leisure, relaxation with their family and friends.
This can be credited to the fact that the lockdown has Mumbaikars – who have majorly been confined to their own homes and localities for close to six months – longing for a vacation, a short getaway, or even just the company of loved ones. Close to 5% respondents would choose to travel solo for a domestic leisure getaway, while 13% would opt for a solo international leisure getaway.
Over 40% would consider travelling domestically, while 34% would consider travelling internationally for business purposes. 16% respondents want to travel to their hometowns within the country.
HOW AND WHERE ARE THEY CHOOSING TO TRAVEL?
Whether for business or leisure, domestic destinations accessible by air are the most preferred. A substantial percentage – 40% respondents, would prefer to travel domestically by flights. This confidence in air travel will come as a welcome relief to the aviation sector and ancillary industries.
On the international front, short-haul destinations are the dominant preference with 18% respondents preferring to visit countries neighboring India. Only 10% respondents would opt for long haul international travel. This can be attributed to caution in undertaking multiple-stops or layovers, that could potentially increase the risk of infection as well as the increased financial strain involved.
A significant number would rather be close to home and only undertake travel to the city outskirts (16%) at this point in time, or have staycations within their city (10%) itself. Only 7% respondents are currently keen on undertaking long distance self-drive journeys. As domestic state-borders open up, an increase in this trend is anticipated, further encouraged by its natural advantage of social distancing.
Exercising Caution and Safety Emerge As Themes
The increasing caution displayed by potential Mumbai travellers is evident from the fact that a whopping 70% now deem securing travel insurance a necessity even while travelling domestically.
Earlier, travel insurance was predominantly preferred by outbound / international travellers from Mumbai albeit as a secondary component of their travel. While in some instances, the fact that it was a prerequisite element for certain visa and immigration protocols, acted as the sole purpose for travellers to purchase travel insurance.
It remains to be seen if travel insurance is now made mandatory by national and state governments, with clauses that recompense passengers for bio-accidents as well. With safety a priority, more than half (51%) respondents would rather travel by their own vehicle, as opposed to travelling by public transport. However, when it comes to public transport, air travel is the leading preference followed by hired vehicles and lastly buses and trains.
When it comes to accommodation, Mumbaikars have displayed maximum confidence in five-star properties or other luxury suites due to their pre-existing trust in these brands or the transparency with which they showcase their sanitisation practices, assuring high standards of hygiene and safety.
Homestays with family and friends due to familiarity and assurance of surroundings and co-habitants was the second most preferred accommodation choice.