As the travel industry prepares for a slow and cautious recovery,
there is one question that remains critical to defending the core of your
travel business. No matter which sector of the travel industry you are in,
whether it is airlines, hotels or tours, you should be asking yourself how
people will get to you.
Early trends suggest that the obvious answers to that
question - trains, taxis and public transport - may not be so obvious anymore.
The story the data tells us
Recent data from around the world reveals an interesting
story: Private driving has become more popular than ever, while recovery rates
for other transit modes are languishing.
Trends Data (below) shows that private driving in the United States, as
an example, has rebounded quickly back above the pre-COVID baseline. And OAG shows air traffic down 67%, while private driving is up 27%.
Travelers have always demanded confidence in their travel
plans, but today that confidence includes health security. Looking at Jayride’s
travelers, we can clearly see this behavior in our data.
Since the onset of
COVID-19, shared vehicle bookings have declined and private vehicle bookings
have increased as a percentage of total bookings. Travelers are opting out of
rail and short-haul airfare connections to prefer long-distance rides, with a
noticeable 27%-plus increase in median trip distance today compared to March.
Even more impressive, the chart below shows, ride-service
companies that have listed their rides as “COVID-19 prepared” on our platform
are enjoying a substantial increase in the share of total bookings received since
March. These ride-service companies now receive 66 out of every 100 bookings,
whereas those same companies received only 43 out of every 100 bookings prior
to COVID-19. That’s a whopping 53% boost to their market share based on their
Our travelers support these findings: We survey every
traveler’s booking and travel experience with every ride service company. Travelers
clearly enjoy increased confidence when pre-booking rides as part of their
travel itinerary. Keywords like “clean,” “safe” and even “virus” and “sanitized/sanitizer”
are appearing in ever more positive reviews. Transport companies who provide
these as central to their service are seeing record high review scores (4.7/5.0
average) and record-high NPS after-travel scores.
Confidence is the new commodity
Businesses that survived the initial impact of COVID-19 and
have the runway to outlast it are now reimagining the travel industry and
figuring out where they fit inside this new landscape.
When analyzing the “new travelers” and their needs, I
propose the following framework: Travelers will make their purchase decisions
based on a new matrix of considerations - cost, convenience and security.
In today’s world, security isn’t just about traditional
dangers, it is a broader concept where the threat is an unseen virus for which
the cure is not yet available. And, given the level of disruption we have seen
over the last six months, security now also extends to guarding against the
risk of losing money on cancellation of airfare or hotel stay, should a
lockdown or a travel restriction be imposed without warning.
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The traveling public’s need for security is amplified in
the current environment. Accordingly, they will be more likely to compromise on
cost and convenience for a more secure travel option.
This means that certain travelers will happily pay a premium
for a service that exceeds their baseline security requirements. They would
even sacrifice convenience, including more intrusive health checks, handling
their own bags, slower times-to-destination and reduced ease of access, to
achieve the health and financial security they seek.
This new behavioral matrix demonstrates that confidence in
security is a key factor businesses have to consider. With that in mind, it is
possible to bring to the market traveler-focused solutions that work for these
new security needs and to sell them at premium price points that make good
economic sense even in the current reduced travel environment.
Door-to-destination unlocks the whole package
As COVID-19 is likely to be around for some time, expect
that whenever travelers can control part of their travel plan to increase
security and reduce risks, they will do so. By optimizing their safety, they
will feel confident in their entire travel plan, and their transit choices form
a key part of that feeling of confidence.
You can offer the most health-secure flight - as AirAsia is
trying to do with its new COVID-19 PPE uniforms - but travelers will still have
to get to the airport somehow. You can run the best activity in town, but travelers
still have to find a way to get to you.
This means that during and beyond this pandemic, solving
traveler’s ground transport is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s no longer
ancillary or secondary to the rest of the package. Your risk is to lose your
customers entirely if they are not confident in the transit that brings them to
Your opportunity then is to look at the entire door-to-door
experience of their travel and provide them with the complete package, a secure
door-to-destination solution to defend your core business. If sufficient
confidence can be provided in transit, then people will travel with you once
These new expectations from travelers become even more
crucial when it comes to corporate travel as the duty of care requirements play
an additional role as risk and liability issues arise. From our conversations
with large travel management companies, they even indicate that corporate travelers
may require their ride service as part of the package or else stay working at
home with Zoom.
As Flight Centre boss Graham Turner is cited saying
in the Sydney Morning Herald, “Travel agents … need to work overtime to convince
holidaymakers and corporate clients it is safe to travel, by providing detailed
information about the airlines they will fly with, their hotels and how they
will be transported on the ground.”
The silver lining
Although the bundling of door-to-destination ride service is
a new concept for most travel brands, it’s also an opportunity to accelerate
your COVID-19 rebound. It can help you increase the confidence, conversion
rates and the frequency of travel of your hesitant travelers, along with the
lifetime value of every new customer you acquire – quite beside the opportunity
to add new ancillary revenue at premium commissionable rates.
Whether it is convenient or not, security is here to stay as
a traveler’s new primary concern. For these cautious travelers, their security
in transit (in general) and ground transportation (most specifically) has
become the most significant place to add value.
So the next time you are looking for ways to build a traveler’s
confidence and add value to their experience, don’t forget to think of this
question: “How will people get to you?”
About the author...
Rod Bishop is the co-founder and managing director of