Quick Takes on Travel: Part II


The desire for travel is undeniable. Harnessing that growing energy in a smart, strategic and sympathetic way is now the challenge for, quite literally, every travel provider on the planet. We turned to our own industry experts within MMGY Global; Chris Davidson, EVP, Global Strategy, MMGY Travel Intelligence, Julie Cuesta, Managing Director, MMGY Myriad and Caroline Moultrie, Managing Director, MMGY Hills Balfour to garner insights from their deep expertise from their respective roles within the industry. Read the quick takes below. 

What are the indicators that travelers will be ready to get out again?

People need to feel safe before they commit. The number of infections and mortality needs to go down before travelers will actively consider traveling again. That said, we’re starting to see an uptick in traveler sentiment, and we hope the sense of optimism continues to build through the summer as places around the country start to slowly reopen their doors. – Chris Davidson

What will recovery in the leisure market look like?

The likelihood of taking a leisure trip in the next six months has declined by more than 50% in the past month, according to our Travel Intentions Pulse Survey. However, we expect leisure travel will recover first, and it will drive the industry’s larger recovery. Part of the reason is that travelers are more resilient than ever because of the past events that we’ve all been through: 9/11, the financial crisis, H1N1, SARS, and a host of other widespread emergencies. – Caroline Moultrie

Should brands shift their focus to domestic travel rather than long haul?

Our research shows that the initial return to travel will likely be by car to close-to-home destinations, and visiting friends and family leads the way beyond anything else. – Chris Davidson 

Domestic travel will come back sooner than international travel. However, in the U.K. market and across Europe, international travel does not have to be long haul. In fact, Flight Scanner did a survey in which 80% of Britons believe that foreign travel will resume within the next six months, compared to about 60% of Americans. The reality is, however, it’s far too early to assess the impact of whatever the foreign offices are putting out there. – Caroline Moultrie

There’s no question that visitation to international destinations is going to be dramatically down. The figures are going to shock the tourist boards, DMOs and their stakeholders. But should they give up on them? Absolutely not. A lot of bookings have been postponed, and if destinations stopped talking to consumers that have shown interest, they may lose them to other destinations. – Julie Cuesta

Can we predict how airlines will respond in terms of routes and capacity?

This is a really, really complicated situation. Airlines were very much in crisis mode, and now they’re slowly moving out of that. They’re closely watching their financial position, so some of the support they’re getting from governments is going to influence their routes and where they choose to fly. We’re going to have very significant shake-ups, and things are still rapidly developing. It is going to change, and I think it’s going to be quite dramatic. For that reason, we might not see airfares come down on long-haul destinations if capacity is lower. – Julie Cuesta

How should we factor in China as a source market going forward?

Travel from China is going to be a huge part of people’s thinking going forward. However, in talking to some of our Chinese partners, they’re also worried about travel to international destinations and the reaction that they might receive. I think there is a balance between understanding cultures and also seeing how that actually pans out when it comes to travel and tourism. – Caroline Moultrie

International destinations are realizing they can’t just be reliant on one market versus another. China is going to continue to be a really important source market for many countries, but I think it’s going to be very much a developing space. – Julie Cuesta

How will the cruise industry emerge from the crisis?

According to CLIA, the cruise industry was worth $150 billion in 2018. It is exposed and it is hurting. Cruise lines are starting to think about how they can come out of this in a way that is reflective of the good that cruising brings to the world, with positive storytelling about the economic benefits in destinations around the world. In the long term, the cruise industry has seen bookings coming through even up to 2021, so business is actually very buoyant. I do think there are green shoots for cruising, although they have a big job ahead of them in the short term. – Caroline Moultrie

How will social distancing impact travel environments?

The current social distancing rules just won’t work. Think about it, boarding one jumbo jet would require a queue a kilometer long, so airports are just not going to work with the social-distancing measures. The world’s largest airplane, the Airbus A330, has about 500 passengers. So, instead of implementing social distancing at airports, what governments need to do is quickly find a solution that could be ready by this summer. One of the airports in Dubai is looking at prescreening passengers as they get onto the aircraft through a disinfectant pod: You walk in, have your temperature checked, get sprayed with disinfectant, and pop out the other side. A lot of it will be about perception, giving people confidence that the person sitting next to them is as able to travel as they are. – Caroline Moultrie