Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers are beginning to think about their environmental impact of their journeys, taking more responsibility for their choices, according to travel insurance provider Allianz Partners.
The pandemic has led to a rise in the “eco-conscious consumer,” Allianz says, releasing its latest research on travel trends.
The renewed focus on “greener journeys” was a key takeaway that emerged from this year’s Allianz Partners Global Travel Summit.
The virtual three-day event included more than 1,000 attendees, and focused on emerging trends in the travel industry as the world emerges from the global pandemic and faces a new set of challenges as a result of geo-political and economic uncertainty.
Rise of ethical travel
Allianz Partners partnered with global consumer trends agency Foresight Factory and other industry experts to explore current and upcoming trends impacting travel, allowing partners to stay ahead of the curve in terms of meeting the evolving needs of customers.
The trends presented at the Summit were based on extensive research carried out by both Foresight Factory and Allianz Partners’ Customer Lab research which found that it’s now – more than ever – socially desirable to put the planet first and make more ethical, sustainable, and greener choices.
This was supported by research findings such as that nearly six in ten (59%) Family Millennials, aged 26 – 40, say they will pay more attention to the environmental impact of their travel in the future, compared to pre-pandemic.
Additionally, over seven in ten consumers in Great Britain, Germany, and the U.S. say that sustainability filters on travel sites would help them make better choices and to live more sustainably.
The social ethics of travelling is weighing on the minds of consumers as they consider the various eco-conscious travel options available to them, Allianz says.
Over half (55%) of Family Millennials aged 26-40 surveyed are intending to travel less in the future, further reducing their environmental footprint.
The slow travel trend, which positions the journey itself as a holiday destination or activity, also promotes more sustainable holiday options like train travel or travel by recreational vehicle (e.g. motorhome, camper van, coach, caravan).
“At this year’s event, we heard about the emerging trends in the travel industry, and it’s clear that a strong travel recovery is being faced with a new set of challenges. Economic vitality, geo-political unrest, and a rising cost of living – coupled with a desire to make sustainable and eco-friendly choices –all will have a lasting impact on our industry,” said Joe Mason, chief marketing officer – travel at Allianz Partners, at the Summit.
“The need to adapt to this new travel landscape has never been more important and is a priority for us at Allianz Partners. We are helping our customers and partners navigate through these challenging times and are focused on turning travel insurance into full end-to-end travel protection, and we’re excited about what the future holds.”
Impact of the geo-political unrest
The travel industry is not immune to economic forces.
Another dominant topic from the Summit pointed to the impact of economic conditions on confidence in travel.
Where people travel, how long they travel, and how much they spend is directly impacted by inflation, rising energy costs, and a general rise in cost of living.
Households are feeling the direct impact of the geo-political unrest with supply chain issues causing major economic upheaval due to a surge in gas and food prices.
For the travel industry, it is having a “knock-on effect” on the cost of travel, with long-haul flights, in particular, becoming increasingly expensive.
However, it also is impacting prices for travel-related expenditures such as hotels and restaurants that may pass these price hikes on to consumers, Allianz says.
“Ultimately, the risk is that leisure travel may no longer be seen as a priority by consumers who have limited surplus income each month and instead be considered a luxury they cannot afford,” the company says.
Business travel vs. sustainability targets
The summit also found that a reduction in business travel has reduced costs for companies and helped them to lower their carbon emissions which has helped businesses meet sustainability targets.
However, many employees long for face-to-face interaction with their clients and customers.
Businesses are now at a crossroads between meeting sustainability targets and employee desires.
“As employees get back into the office, the correlation between a desire for and appetite for business travel has increased with some companies using business travel for recruitment and retention,” Allianz says.
The summit found that the rise of the eco-conscious consumer following the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a turbulent geo-political landscape and the transformation of business travel, will create some headwinds for an otherwise robust travel recovery.