Sabre Corporation released a new global travel industry study, Mapping Travel’s New Normal, which identifies prominent shifts in travel.
Across 20 countries in EMEA, APAC and the US, the wide-ranging study involved both quantitative and qualitative research with over 500 decision-makers from airlines and travel agencies – the study highlighted the different areas of focus as both sectors seek to capture opportunities for recovery and for future growth, including technological investment priorities by global regions.
Participants were questioned about the impact of the pandemic on their customers and their businesses, as well as the implications for the future of the travel industry.
The findings saw more than a third of airline and agency leaders indicating their positive outlook of travel returning to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024, with a further third believing it will happen in 2025 or beyond. 82% of airlines executives surveyed responded that they expect the combination of business and leisure to be even more prominent post-recovery.
Responses on “revenge travel” had 68% of travel leaders forecasting a higher spend from consumers on their future travel plans, and that travellers are considering more decision factors before committing to a trip.
More than half of agencies surveyed stated they are spending more time researching new tools, services and technologies; this is a particular area of focus in APAC, for 71% of responding agencies.
92% of travel agencies surveyed indicated that they want the support of travel technology partners to create a more seamless experience in terms of shopping, booking and fulfilment, while 89% responded that they want useful tools to personalise travel.
96% of airlines surveyed expect enhanced possibilities to offer growth opportunities and improved customer service and satisfaction scores.
Sabre’s senior vice president of airline global sales and accounts, Darren Rickey, said: “One thing that struck us as we were carrying out the research was the unprecedented pace of change in the past few months.
“This of course presents an enormous opportunity, but it also puts strains on travel businesses who must adapt their plans, processes and operations to address these potential changes,” he added.
Key trends identified by surveyed agencies include the importance of organised and connected trips to cut through travel complexities for customers; the ongoing prominence of domestic and regional travel and the challenges (and opportunities) for business travel recovery.
Major trends identified for airlines participating in the survey include increasing consumer bookings protection, the growth of “bleisure” as a catalyst for potential corporate travel recovery, and offering more sustainable flight options to meet customer demands.
Airlines are also focused on increasing domestic and regional routes, and how new product formats (organised and connected trips) can help optimise recovery opportunities while creating increasingly personalised experiences for travellers.
“Our latest Sabre research has highlighted a degree of optimism across the travel ecosystem,” said Andy Finkelstein, senior vice president, global agency sales and corporate solutions, Sabre.
“However, it also suggested that not all travel leaders may be ready for these potential changes if they happen quickly. The survey indicates that there is a clear need for agility, transformation and collaboration so that travel agencies, airlines and other industry players can ensure they are in a position to identify these changes, strategise for future growth opportunities and improve the experience for the traveller.”