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11 April 2024

Travel Industry – Our Latest Consumer Insights

Travel Industry – Our Latest Consumer Insights

Our understanding of our audience and the wider population is fundamental to our success. We created our commercial insight & research team to ensure we always have a handle on the thoughts and narratives shaping consumer behaviour. Utilising these insights helps our clients better understand their consumers and achieve the best possible results from our work together.

We’ve recently shone a spotlight on travel to explore how consumers are travelling for leisure, and how this has changed over the last two years. Let’s break down some of our key findings, along with the thoughts of leading industry figures.

Top Priorities

The COVID pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have been a near-fatal few years for the travel industry. From consumers being forcibly stopped going ahead with travel plans, to economic pressures holding people back once again, it’s been a tough time for the industry. Despite these challenges, it looks like things could be set to return to pre-COVID normality this year.

Our latest insights show travel remains a priority: 77% of people say they plan to go on holiday (+2% since 2022). 63% say holidays will be a high priority (+6% since 2022). The appetite is clearly still there and with living cost constrictions loosening, it’s a sure recipe for success. Our insights further reaffirm this with 27% saying holiday plans will not be affected by the rising cost of living.

What The Leading Figures Are Saying

In our last travel industry outlook back in December, Q3 reports were awash with a similar sentiment. IAG, TUI and Booking Holdings all indicated a robust comeback from COVID-19 challenges. IAG went as far as setting its sights on 2024 being a significant step in a return to pre-COVID levels of capacity.

Since this report, we’ve seen the release of annual statements from all these major industry figures. Highlights include IAG showing full-year profits of 3.5 billion Euros. This represents an operating margin of 11.9%, strongly ahead of last year and close to pre-COVID levels. TUI saw similar success with 19 million customers travelling in 2023, a 13% increase on 2022.

Worries Still Remain

Whilst there are a wealth of positives to take from last year and many more on the horizon, the media and the minds of your consumers haven’t completely shifted yet. When we surveyed the main factors deterring consumers from booking holidays, a quarter said worries about the cost of living increases ahead is the main factor in this.

Things are getting easier, but not for everyone and it’s critical businesses are mindful of this in their marketing strategy.

Loyalty: a benefit or challenge?

Our research highlighted loyalty as a key theme amongst travellers this year. Many are ready to spend and itching to get away, however, the pressure of ensuring their investment on an unforgettable holiday means people are reluctant to experiment.

The reasoning behind consumer loyalty is even more enlightening. Top 3 reasons for returning to a brand: Value for money (75%), previous experience (63%) and customer service (62%). These three pillars should all form the central part of your strategy this year and highlighting this within your marketing will go even further.

Conclusion

2024 is undoubtedly a year of enormous opportunity. The stage is set for a triumphant return to pre-COVID success. Keeping your ear to the ground and close to consumers is fundamental to getting the messaging right. Understanding what they’re looking for from a brand and exemplifying this clearly and publicly will aid in the battle against competitor loyalty. It’s also important to have a clear perspective of the whole picture; many families are still struggling and will continue to do so. Engaging these demographics sensitively and augmenting your offering will allow you to cater to the whole mass market and drive your revenue as far as possible this year.


Sources:
IAG Annual Report 2023
Tui Annual Report 2023
Bauer Insiders Spotlight on Travel
Rajar Q4 2023

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