Millennials Are Wary of International Travel, Coachella Post-Coronavirus

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Millennials Are Wary of International Travel, Coachella Post-Coronavirus

I typically don’t care for articles that do a deep dive into Millennials.  They’re usually written by people who want to criticize the Millennial generation in a roundabout way.  That being said, I found the results of a new survey pretty interesting, particularly the figures on domestic and international travel.  The survey found millennials are wary of international travel until long after a vaccine is discovered for coronavirus.  The survey examined how millennial and Generational Z respondents intend to get back to normal life post-coronavirus.

But what I found really interesting is perspectives on travel — both domestic and international.  Millennials are hesitant to return to international travel, even after a vaccine for the virus is discovered.  That is shocking given that millennials travel more than other generations.  Amongst millennials, travel is also ranked as a greater priority in their budgets.

The Survey and Travel

The survey examined four categories: 1) As soon as isolation ends; 2) Months after isolation ends; 3) As soon as vaccine is out; and 3) Long after vaccine is out.  The survey asked Generation Z and Millennial respondents between the ages of 16 and 35 when they plan to return to certain activities.

a graph with numbers and percentages
Courtesy: TruePublic ans CNBC

Astoundingly, respondents ranked international travel second-to-last, ahead of large events (i.e. Coachella).  According to the survey, only 27% of respondents will return to international travel as soon as isolation ends.  Thirty-seven percent of respondents plan to wait until long after a vaccine.  Respondents ranked domestic travel third, which may be good news for domestic airlines in the U.S. hoping for a rebound.

It is even more shocking that the survey found the plurality of respondents want to wait until long after the vaccine is discovered before returning to international travel.  That is not a good finding for airline companies, hotels, and other travel companies that rely heavily on international travel.  It suggests the generation that loves to travel is hesitant to return to the international skies when “normal” returns.

Is This Troubling?

It’s hard to determine the accuracy of the survey results right now.  Since we are currently in the crisis, it’s possible that people’s responses are different than their responses during a non-crisis.  A 2019 study from the Centers for Disease Control found that “people take in information, process information, and act on information differently than they would during non-crisis times.”  That means the responses provided to the survey today are likely skewed towards that crisis mentality.  It is possible the respondents’ opinions will change post-isolation as things begin to return to normal.

Good and Bad Signs

With that said, the survey results might be a bad sign for travel companies.  Clearly, there is hesitation from the generation that loves to travel to return to international travel.  If travel companies can’t get some of their most travel-conscious customers to travel, it might demonstrate a long road ahead for international travel companies.

There is also the realization that international travel might not be available shortly after stay-at-home orders end in the United States.  There is support among many world leaders for travel restrictions that will limit the extent of international travel.

But there’s also hope for U.S. airlines’ domestic market.  As noted above, the survey found millennials excited to get back into the skies domestically.  That may be a great opportunity for the travel industry within the United States.  Importantly, millennials seem ready to return to travel in advance of the vaccine.  That means that after stay-at-home orders end, millennials may start looking to the domestic skies.

Bottom Line

The survey is an interesting find during a period of uncertainty in the travel industry.  Airlines are hungry for cash and relying on stimulus money to stay afloat.  They are discussing furloughs and layoffs, and there is a likelihood they will happen.

However, not all the news from the survey is bad news.  There is a possibility that the domestic market will be able to return sooner, if results on the domestic travel are accurate.  There is a possibility these two generations will make domestic travel a priority post-isolation measures.  That will at least give domestic airlines the opportunity to increase their coffers domestically.

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  1. Interesting. But it is possible that these folks will do as they will, not as they poll. That said, if the airlines want an uptick in international travel they had better come up with something other than constant point devaluations and banking partners who RAT on customers.

  2. Hard to compare the percentages when the normal lead times for international travel is already much longer than the lead time to go to a restaurant. There is some inherent planning friction built into those lead times so you can’t attribute it all to COVID.

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