Travel & Hospitality

How COVID-19 Has Changed the UK Travel Industry

By Jun 7, 2021

While attitudes toward travel in the UK are beginning to improve, there's still more work ahead for travel brands when it comes to ensuring that consumers feel confident about booking their next trip. To help companies in the travel sector successfully adapt their marketing campaigns in the ever-evolving travel landscape, Braze—in partnership with market intelligence solution Apptopia and travel platform Skyscanner—has created Ready for Takeoff, a report exploring 2021 travel industry trends, insights, and strategies.

When it comes to the current state of affairs in the UK in terms of travel, our research found that:

1. Strong NHS App Adoption Suggests Rising Appetite for Travel

When the UK government announced on April 28 that its National Health Service (NHS) app would serve as a COVID-19 passport for UK residents seeking to travel internationally, the resulting demand led downloads to hit an all-time high two days later, increasing 76% year-on-year. In May, that adoption continued to grow, according to Apptopia, with an average of 62.6k daily downloads (446% higher than May 2020). Nine out of ten (85%) vaccinated UK residents say they’d be happy to share their vaccination status with brands in order to travel, suggesting that consumers are happy to share personal data and comply with travel regulations if it means they can secure a holiday.

2. UK Residents Are Still Feeling Confusion and Concern Over Safety and Travel Rules

Despite an eagerness to travel again, our research found that safety concerns and confusion about the rules are clouding bookings. 52% of UK consumers stated that not enforcing COVID-19 safety measures would be a dealbreaker for them when using a company. Over half (53%) said safety measures are their number one consideration when choosing a travel brand.

Less than half (47%) of UK consumers understand the rules governing international travel. When asked what could be communicated better, 55% of UK residents found quarantine rules, COVID vaccine certificates, testing requirements, and the traffic light system confusing. The youngest bracket of travelers expressed confusion about how their unvaccinated status will affect their travel plans this summer (18-24 62%, and 25-34 54%). Many respondents aged 18 to 34 still don’t know enough about quarantine rules or testing requirements to feel comfortable moving ahead with travel plans. And as a result, almost half (44%) of consumers have admitted to postponing their international summer holiday.

3. Cost Matters When It Comes to COVID Testing and Travel

In terms of COVID testing and its impact on travel, our research found that cost does play a factor. 47% of consumers say the cost of testing would impact their travel plans. Additionally, 52% of respondents believe that the rules for quarantine and testing should be the same for everyone regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not.

4. UK Residents Are Increasingly Ready to Travel—But Many Haven’t Pulled the Trigger

Over half (52%) of UK consumers haven’t travelled anywhere since the start of the pandemic (the highest percentage in Europe). However, the majority of respondents (nearly 60%) are becoming more comfortable with the prospect of returning to travel as lockdown restrictions ease and as the vaccine rollout continues.

Final Thoughts

Travel brands need to seize this opportunity to rebuild relationships and trust with consumers by delivering insightful and personalized information that cuts through the noise and confusion to help them feel confident booking travel and accommodation once more.

Although travel brands will be facing a challenging UK market as borders reopen and COVID restrictions ease, these challenges come paired with opportunities for strong engagement and audience growth. To learn more, check out the findings from the report for top tips on how to engage your customers. The opportunity is there—you just need to know how to reach your consumers effectively.

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