Majority of Australians keen to book travel despite experiencing fear and uncertainty, finds Nine research

Travel marketers need to build trust with Australians looking to book holidays as research from Nine and Kantar has found barriers to domestic tourism are the senses of fear and uncertainty held by consumers about the likelihood for their bookings to be cancelled at the last minute.

Presented at the Nine’s State of the Nation event today, the research outlined that while there is appetite for domestic travel, with two thirds of respondents considering booking interstate travel this year, consumers are still being cautious about making plans.

The research surveyed 4,000 people across Nine’s audiences in late January and early February and gathered insights from 126 video blogs.

Nine’s chief sales officer, Michael Stephenson, said that the new insights presented an opportunity for marketers in the tourism sector, and that brands need to look into changing booking policies to accomodate for the new environment the sector now operates in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This research clearly shows the appetite for travel among Nine’s audiences is absolutely there,” Stephenson said.

“There is an opportunity from travel brands to tap into an openness, optimism and desire to travel, but it will require travel marketers to recognise that consumers now have a different set of needs that have to be addressed in order to convert intent into action.

“Many in the travel industry have already put in place key changes to booking policies and protocols to protect travellers and provide reassurance. Our research provides further reassurance to the sector of the opportunity before it.”

The number of respondents considering booking domestic travel this year was lower when narrowed down to those looking at intrastate travel. However, 87% said their private car is now their preferred method of transport and only 55% were comfortable taking short flights.

The research also found that consumers were finding the process of planning holidays to feel like ‘homework’ due to the requirements to research border rules, booking policies and insurance.

Positive signs for the industry include the finding that 22% of respondents are looking to spend ‘more than usual’ on travel within Australia and 38% are looking to take more frequent, shorter trips within Australia.

As a result, the research indicates an opportunity for tourism operators facilitating short stays and weekend trips away.

Kantar’s Kirsty Macmillan said the research indicated a clear change in behaviour with travellers following the effects of COVID-19.

“As consumers continue to adapt, remaining agile, building trust and helping consumers resolve tensions is key for brands,” she said.

Stephenson added: “The ‘new normal’ might have become a bit of a cliché,  but it’s a real thing when it comes to travel.

“Consumers understand and accept that there are new things to consider when planning a trip, and in return they are looking for flexibility and adaptiveness on the part of brands. Providing this will be key to conversion as the travel industry returns to growth.”

Through the research Nine identified its audiences are seeking assurance from tourism operators, the desire for new experiences and to explore new areas, and to recharge and feel connection through their holidays following growing feelings of isolation last year.

The opportunities for marketers, Nine said, are to clearly communicate the flexibility and confidence surrounding bookings, put themselves forth as the “facilitator of discovery” and to showcase the communities they operate in.

In response to the research, Nine has also announced at the State of the Nation event it is creating nine new travel tribes within its 9Tribes data product, covering different tourism experiences its audiences are pursuing, such as “fly and relax travellers” and “wine region explorers”.


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