Ranking amongst the biggest spenders worldwide, Germans love traveling both near and far. No matter which continent you are on, there is a high chance you will run into one. Will the lifting of restrictions create enough incentive to get out into the world again? With the travel industry in recovery from the pandemic, it’s important to consider the changes in traveling behavior among Germans.

We have conducted a study together with Hochschule München to pinpoint what is encouraging and deterring German touristic travelers from vacationing again. To better understand tourists’ concerns and put to test the industry’s current answers to post-pandemic travel, both travelers and travel agencies have been surveyed in this analysis.

Our four key findings are:

1. Travelers are ready to go abroad

Vacationing in Germany is an option for many. However, the majority of tourists are keen to travel internationally with one major requirement; health care in the destination country must be accessible and reliable. Participating travel agencies in this survey underestimated their clients’ willingness for international travel. The opportunity is there; now it needs to be leveraged. By promoting health and safety offerings, countries and regions can position themselves as secure destinations and therefore generate additional pull.

2. Customer ratings outweigh personal consultation

Travelers want to browse digital material for choices and inspiration on their next holiday destination based on previous consumer ratings. This applies to all age groups. A switch to Virtual Reality and even more immersive technologies is a viable path forward. According to the study’s results, the most significant change is the lessening demand for a personal visit and consultation with a trusted agent. While travel agencies have yet to accept this new reality, this is a fading requirement with little endorsement by the traveler. Personal consultation has already been replaced by social media and platform ratings; travel agencies must now adjust to this.

3. Health measures are being accepted; but quarantine is not

Travelers are ready to get tested and wear masks as needed, and they are even willing to pay a premium for extra hygiene and distancing. Additionally, sharing personal data with administration and authorities is widely accepted amongst travelers if the purpose of protection is clear. A vaccination requirement resulted to be a neutral nuisance for Germans in this analysis; it’s apparently not a huge burden for traveling. The threat of quarantine in the destination country or upon returning to Germany, however, is seen as a clear deterrent.

This again strengthens the position of EU destination states receiving almost twice the level of approval from travelers compared to countries outside the EU. Touristic options should be adapted to match these preferences.

4. Social pressure and sustainability do not play a big role

The majority of travelers have the budget and eagerness to vacation abroad despite the social and economic crisis of the past year. Friends and family who may be more careful or even fearful do not impose additional pressure on others; the decision to go on a trip is a very individual one. Furthermore, families are not waiting to get their children vaccinated before they go on vacation. An obvious obstacle is the travel restrictions in place in many countries outside of the EU. On the other hand, worries about pollution and climate change fall behind with one exception: the negative environmental impact of cruises has led to growing concerns among travelers.

What should the travel industry do now to accommodate travelers’ needs and expectations both during and after the pandemic in the best possible way?  

The touristic recovery is critical for travel companies and it precedes the business travel recovery. Travelers are eager to vacation abroad again; they’re willing to comply with strict safety measures and they do have sufficient financial means. Travel companies must grasp this and implement transparent measures and safety protocols. Even so, companies can exploit the traveler’s additional willingness to pay a premium for it. In a post-pandemic world, higher travel classes and more space will sell better.

People want to get away – and they will!

Philipp Schwarz

Principal Director, Global Travel Services

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