More than half (58%) of consumers do not trust hotels to take the necessary steps to ensure their health and safety in a post-COVID world, per research consultancy Magid.
Such sentiments signal a long road back for the travel/hospitality sector.
Hotels actually were the most trusted among the travel category, followed by airlines (trusted by 40%), airports (38%), rental cars (35%) and cruise lines (32%).
One in five survey respondents do not plan to return to their normal routines after the coronavirus crisis has passed.
Half of those who have cancelled/postponed trips say they will change how they allocate their travel funds, and 32% have stopped thinking about leisure travel for the foreseeable future.
Twenty-nine percent expect to be spending less on travel-related activities a year from now, and 13% of business travelers do not intend to travel at the same rate ever again.
Consumers expect to be most comfortable traveling to destinations closer to home, even a year from now.
Additionally, the research found that consumers will be hesitant to take part in certain activities within six months. The vast majority (82%) do not expect take a cruise within the next six months, while 72% do not plan to stay overnight at a private vacation rental.
Companies need to go beyond marketing to reassure consumers and to get them to reengage, says David Bilicic, Magid senior vice president.
“This is a time when organizations as a whole need a comprehensive and cohesive response that spans departments: marketing, operations, customer service, front-line associates,” Bilicic tells Marketing Daily.
For companies looking to regain consumer’s trust, Magid has identified nearly 70 specific actions that consumers have indicated will reignite trust by increasing comfort and confidence, including visible hand-washing stations, automatic doors and personal cleaning kits.
At a fundamental level, consumers want assurances of disinfecting and other COVID-19 mitigation steps. However, it's critical that these assurances are delivered in ways that minimize the impact on the guest experience, Bilicic says.
“In some cases, these assurances will become what defines a great experience,” he says. “For travel brands, this means providing their guests with flexibility and no penalty fees to reduce the stress of committing during these uncertain times.”
Brands that determine the optimal combinations of specific actions with the most appeal will be the ones that win the race to re-ignite consumer engagement and win back trust, Bilicic says.