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It's been anything but smooth runnings for travelers - does this make them less likely to take risks? We investigate...
Welcome to Attest Investigates! In this series we use the Attest platform to test your burning questions and explore literally any topic. As a scientist, I am obsessed with experimentation, empiricism and using data to make decisions, so if you have something that needs investigating, get in touch at [email protected] – Jeremy King, CEO and Founder, Attest
After many grounded months, travel was finally back on the agenda in 2022, but it’s been anything but smooth runnings for travelers. We’ve had to contend with delays, cancellations, strikes, lost baggage, and any number of changing rules and regulations.
On top of that, record-breaking inflation and some wild currency movements are making many destinations more expensive. What does this all mean for the future of travel, I hear you ask? We decided to find out what’s in store for the travel industry in the coming months by using Attest to survey 500 consumers in the US and 500 in the UK.
We not only investigated consumers’ plans to travel but also their appetite for risk. Would they be more inclined to stay closer to home and avoid flying this winter? What were their top concerns when thinking about traveling? We also wanted to know if the uncertainty of the current situation would change the way people research and book trips. Read our findings below or dig into the data for yourself right here!
Three key takeaways were:
With prices rising and disposable income being squeezed you might imagine that people would be eschewing travel plans for the next six months, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Our data shows that there will be a net increase in the total number of trips being taken in both the US and the UK – although there’s stronger intent in the US. A net +16% of Americans say they will make more trips in the next six months than they did in the previous six months (in comparison to a net +6.6% of Brits).
Americans’ planned travel includes both local trips and those further afield; a net +7.0% of US consumers say they’ll take more flights, while a net +15.2% will take more staycations (“going domestic” in American). In the UK, however, there’s a clear trend of people swapping trips abroad for at-home vacations; a net +10.8% plan to take more staycations in the next six months, while flights record a -0.8% net reduction.
Despite plans to keep on traveling, it looks likely these will be governed by affordability. Both Americans and Brits say that affordability is the main concern they have when considering planning a trip – yet cost is felt more keenly in the UK; 66.4% of Brits rank affordability in first place versus 52.6% of Americans.
What we see in the US is a far higher regard for health and safety fears; 22.8% say it’s their first priority and it ranks second overall. This is compared to the UK, where 11.2% put it in first place and it only ranks fourth overall. It means that American travel brands will have to work much harder to reassure their customers it’s safe to travel and to dispel health concerns.
On the other hand, Brits are more concerned about travel rules and restrictions (coming in second overall). As these change frequently, travel companies can support their customers by staying on top of them and regularly communicating updates, to help reduce this risk and proactively lower the perceived barriers to buying travel.
One thing that both nations agree on is that environmental impact is (unfortunately) at the bottom of their list of concerns when it comes to making travel plans right now. So while brands shouldn’t forego environmental initiatives, there is no consumer motivation to make the environment front and center of marketing campaigns right now.
As a result of people trying to address their concerns about travel, they’ll spend more time researching trips and shopping around for the best deals. A net 29.2% of Americans say the amount of travel-related research they do will increase in the next six months, while 26.0% of Britons say the same.
At the same time, 10.2% of Americans are making reservations further out prior to traveling. And this trend is more pronounced in the UK, where 16.2% are booking earlier. So although these changes may represent increased wariness, they also present opportunities for travel brands to get more eyes on their offerings – and the possibility of locking customers in earlier.
It’s clear that consumers will need more hand-holding, reassurance and confidence in this cautious environment. Brands would be wise to look at ideas that have low cost of implementation, but high perceived benefit and value to consumers, which are based on this data as market conditions continue to evolve. Ideas like ‘price will not lower’ help consumers to take action and book early.
Supplying and fuelling the demand for greater research, and systematically addressing barriers to travel will help travel brands keep consumers engaged and win as consumers change behavior. Demand remains high, but the basis of consumer decision-making, and therefore competition for travel companies, has shifted. As ever, the target consumers make the final decision, and hold the answers to all the important questions.
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Jeremy founded Attest in mid-2015, following 9 years leading global teams across industries at McKinsey & Company. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, originally trained as a scientist with a focus on genetics, ecology and animal behaviour, and also helps to improve state primary schools with his charity work.
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