Europeans Are Eager To Travel Again: Here’s What They Want Most

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Airlines, News

There’s good news in store for European airlines and airports during the winter season. A new study of consumer sentiment for domestic and Intra-European travel conducted by Mindhaus for the European Travel Commission (ETC) shows that Europeans are still eager to travel even as summer comes to an end.  

The survey of 5,769 ‘travel ready’ Europeans shows: 

  • 66% of Europeans plan trips through March 2022  
  • 26% will opt for trips between October and November  
  • 28% plan to travel between December 2021 and January 2022 
  • 25% will travel in February and March 2022 

As pandemic restrictions ease up and COVID-19 vaccination rates rise, Europeans are also 39% more committed to their travel plans than they were during the last survey conducted in July of this year. More Europeans have tired of waiting to travel and have increased confidence about taking spontaneous trips.  


Intra-European “City Breaks” are most attractive   

While Europeans are eager to get out and visit places, they have the highest confidence in traveling within the region. 

  • Mediterranean destinations rank highest on travellers’ destination wish list, with Spain and Italy (both 9%), France (8%) and Greece (7%) as the top preferences.  
  • Desire for city breaks (18%) has now reached a peak for 2021 with a 43% rise since summer 2021, though interest in holidays at the coast remains strong.  
  • Trip planning is becoming more last-minute. Only 29% of Europeans with travel plans for October or November have fully booked their trip. This drops further, to 15%, among those travelling later in 2021.  
  • Shorter trips of up to 3 nights are also more popular (30% of city break travellers).  
  • But Europeans are looking for deals! The share of travellers intending to spend up to 500 euros on their trip grew by 20% compared to the previous survey, to the detriment of higher expenditure levels (1,000+ euros). 


What Europeans miss most about their travel lifestyles 

The survey also revealed what Europeans miss most about travel, something that airlines and airports may want to take advantage of when they plan their campaigns, ancillary offers, and terminal services. 

  • 16.4% long to spend time in a relaxing environment 
  • 16.2% want to escape the routine 
  • 14% want to spend quality time with family and friends 
  • 12.5% want to create lasting memories 
  • 9.9% want to be immersed in local life and local culture  

Family packages and services for kids will also appeal more than couples or singles promotions. Since the previous survey, the share of would-be travellers who said they’d rather travel with their partner dropped by 7% to 33% with 39.1% of those surveyed expressing a preference for family trips.  


They want to fly there!  

The preference for short-getaways is good news for airlines. Despite other transport options available in the region, like rail, a good number (more than 50%) of those ‘travel ready’ Europeans surveyed would like to fly to their quick getaway destinations so they can make the most of their time. The share of Europeans who are now eager to switch to air transport increased by 13% over the previous survey

The study suggests that destinations should boost their joint marketing efforts with air carriers to capitalise on these last-minute journey opportunities, particularly focusing on culture & heritage trips as well as city breaks. 

Bookings will still come on a short window. The share of would-be travelers who have already picked their destination but not yet booked their trip increased by 23% over the last survey, and now stands at 42.4%.  


But they want to fly there with confidence 

Air travel remains the most worrisome touch-point (18.3%) along the journey for would-be travelers, in terms of personal health and safety. That concern has actually increased from the last survey (17

It’s important for airlines to offer reliable information on their own health and safety protocols as well as information on health and safety protocols at the destination. According to the ETC

  • 63% of ‘early bird’ travellers still rely on health and safety protocols at the destination as it makes them feel more comfortable and likely to enjoy their trip. Destinations and tourism businesses should reassure travellers through effective COVID-19 measures, particularly in relation to the areas of most concern: air travel, in-destination transportation, and local attractions.   

The European Digital COVID Certificate has proven to be an effective tool in restoring travel confidence

  • 57.8% of those surveyed strongly agreed that the European Digital COVID Certificate will facilitate travel and travel planning. 

Integrating these certificates into airline digital passes, as the IATA Travel Pass has done, can help those last-minute European travelers get back in the skies

Any other travel planning tools which help make sense of varying travel restrictions from country-to-country would also be welcome. In case you missed it on our previous report, the clever map-based booking tool KLM developed is a great example


By Marisa Garcia