Research Insights 7 in 10 travelers prioritize flexible booking

7 in 10 travelers prioritize flexible booking

October 2021
Phocuswright Research

Several behaviors, preferences and expectations shifted in the age of COVID, as travelers had to acclimate to travel in the most unusual state of the world. According to Phocuswright's latest travel research report U.S. Traveler Behavior: Must-Haves for Moving Forward, some adaptions are temporary necessities that travelers are eagerly looking forward to leaving in the past, while other changed behaviors carry long-term effects. There is a range of acceptability for the rule changes, as they are evaluated by travel customers individually.

Flexibility and spend protection remain key. Seven in 10 expected travelers prioritize flexible booking more than ever. Buying travel that has lenient cancellation, rebooking or refund policies is considered more important now than in pre-COVID days. However, most feel the burden should fall to travel companies. Travel companies are expected to maintain high standards of service, including in their policies regarding trip changes.

Of these 70%, only three in 10 are willing to pay an extra fee for the perk of flexibility (see figure below). Most travelers expect that providers should continue the revised booking policies that were implemented during the height of the pandemic and establish them as an ongoing standard. Travelers did indicate a willingness to use a particular partnered or branded credit card to take advantage of flexible offerings. This would be particularly motivating for loyalty membership sign up or travel credit card usage.

Phocuswright Chart: Acceptable Tradeoffs for Flexible Booking Perks
(Click image to view a larger version.)

Other enduring pillars of pandemic behavior include extreme cleaning, car travel and seeking the great outdoors. For more on worthy tradeoffs, willingness to travel, booking and behavior expectations, download the full report.

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