The lingering effects of COVID-19 and the growing impact of climate change have shaped the behavior of travelers recently and will force the travel industry to evolve. These are the findings in a new report from CarTrawler, a B2B technology provider of car rental and mobility solutions to the global travel industry, that surveyed 2,000 adult travelers across the U.S. and U.K. to understand how travel has transformed over the past year.
According to the report, “The Evolution of Travel: CarTrawler’s Consumer Trends for 2022”, people love to travel, but are also eager for safer options, sustainable alternatives, and greater convenience when traveling.
The bottom line: despite COVID-19 health concerns, travelers have an overwhelming sense of wanderlust, with 77% expressing positive emotions around travel. They are also more environmentally-conscious than ever, with 73% of travelers willing to pay more to rent an eco-friendly car — up to $22 more per day more — and 52% preferring airlines that have
pledged to be carbon neutral. Travelers are also eager for mobile offerings that ease the booking process and allow them to manage their entire itinerary.
“The last two years have forced the travel industry and travelers themselves to adapt and evolve,” said Cormac Barry, CEO of CarTrawler. “Beyond the pandemic, the industry must recognize and adjust to the behaviors of today’s travelers. People are more tech- and environmentally-savvy and expect the brands they engage with to be the same. CarTrawler’s purpose is driving successful partnerships and as CarTrawler sets out to define the future of human travel tech, we hope this report delivers valuable insight into what is driving consumers' decision making, and can act as a blueprint for brands as they adapt to the new realities of travel.”
From Cabin Fever to New Adventures
Travelers across the U.S. and U.K. feel good about travel - more than half of those surveyed (51%) expect to do more domestic leisure travel over the next year, while 43% expect to travel internationally. However, travelers also have mixed feelings about health regulations.
- Fifty-three percent think travel providers are sharing enough — and being more than transparent — about their COVID-19 policies. Meanwhile, more than a third (37%) would like more clarity around policies. Interestingly, new rules and regulations, such as cleaning, instilled more confidence in flying among 34% of travelers, and 41% say that it feels safer and cleaner to fly now than before.
- Sixty-percent of travelers whose last trip was greater than a year ago say they are concerned about their health and physical safety if they were to travel now or in the near future, compared to only 36% of travelers who’ve taken trips within the last year.
- Despite this, travelers are still looking for more flexibility, with 73% saying they would be willing to spend more for flight insurance now than before.
Convenience is King
Over the course of the pandemic, especially with the transition to remote and hybrid work, people have become more accustomed to using cloud services and applications. The travel industry should accommodate this shift by offering travelers more options for convenience and flexibility.
- Sixty-one percent of travelers want an easier booking process; more than half (51%) wish there was a single mobile app they could manage all parts of their trip from.
- Nearly half (49%) of travelers say they would purchase a single travel app if it contained all of the essential elements for travel, including tickets, itineraries, passports and vaccine passports.
- More than half of travelers (55%) say they would like to book flights and rental cars at the same time.
When it comes to using mobile travel apps, the generational divide is quite stark — 43% of Millennials, 36% of Gen Z and 31% of Gen X have used an airline- or car rental-owned mobile application to book transportation, compared to only 15% of Boomers.
Travelers in the U.S. and U.K. are increasingly interested in more eco-friendly options, and are willing to pay a premium.
- More than half of travelers (55%) would rather rent an eco-friendly car than a gas guzzler, and a third (33%) prefer renting electric vehicles.
- Experience with eco-friendly car rentals has been generational — 69% of Gen Z and 68% of Millennials have rented sustainable vehicles, while only 40% of Gen X and 8% of Boomers have.
- On average, U.S. travelers said they would be willing to spend $22 and U.K. travelers £14 more per day on top of the standard price to rent an eco-friendly vehicle.
- However, two-thirds (66%) of travelers say that rental car companies should not charge more for eco-friendly options.
Jet Setters vs. Road Trippers
When asked about their preferred modes of transportation, air travel narrowly beat out personal vehicles. However, travelers might be doing a three-point turn — since the beginning of the pandemic, 85% of travelers have gone on road trips.
- Gen Z (74%) and Millennials (72%) who have been on a road trip say that the first time they’ve rented a car rather than using a personal vehicle happened during the pandemic, compared to 49% of Gen X and 16% of Boomers.