Travel is restarting. Who will travel internationally this summer?

Who are the three types of travelers most likely to travel internationally this summer?

If you guessed the jet-setting elite, adventure enthusiasts and once-in-a-lifetime honeymooners, you’d be wrong.

A new report by Sentimantle, a service that advises tourism and airline clients, has identified the types of travelers who are most likely to venture abroad first. 

Published on May 18, the report — entitled “Recovery Plan: How hotels and tourism facilities can recover from Covid-19” — analyzed 40 tourism recovery cases from prior epidemics as well as customer behaviors and “risk perceptions,” which are subjective feelings about negative consequences that may occur while traveling.

Its findings pointed to three main groups as having the demographic characteristics, motivations and “psychological properties” to travel internationally before everyone else.

1. The young professional

Age: 20-40 years old

Young corporate employees who fall within an age range that is “not as affected” by Covid-19 are expected to travel first. This group skews male, and members are more likely to be single without children, as employees with families will be less inclined to travel due to the potential risk of exposing them to infection.

This group has some money to spend. It’s predicted they will stay in luxury hotels in business destinations around the world and consume high-end hospitality services. Hotels stand to reap large amounts of revenue from this group of traveler, as multinational organizations are expected to spare few expenses to make travel safe and convenient for them.

Younger business people — without families — are predicted to view work travel as an opportunity to get ahead.

Mongkol Chuewong

The report states that members of this group are more likely to hold low to intermediate management positions and view the post-Covid-19 era as an opportunity to demonstrate their merits. “The propensity of the employee to travel increases with his/her willingness to demonstrate loyalty and exceptional performance,” the report says.

Where are they going? Unsurprisingly, safe destinations are expected to benefit from these travelers first.

“Young professionals are expected to travel mostly to business and financial capitals with current low rates of Covid-19 infections,” said Dr. Elad Harison, Sentimantle’s CEO and founder. “For example, Copenhagen and Oslo are relatively safe destinations for business travels, while New York, London, Paris, Milan and Madrid have significantly higher numbers of cases, which may prevent executives and business persons from traveling to them — or companies sending them to these cities — in the next few months.”

2. The local family

Age: 25-40 years old

Families with young children looking for a break after long stay-at-home periods are also more likely to book international travel. Yet, weeks-long summer holidays will likely be replaced with short weekend getaways to close destinations that are familiar to the family.

The term “local” refers to families traveling across borders in their geographical vicinity, said Harison. He cited an example of a Dutch family that books a short trip to Belgium, a country with a shared land border that does not impose added medical risks “due to lack of familiarity with the country and language barriers.”

After being cooped up for so long, families will travel again — though not far and most likely to rural places.

Oliver Rossi

In addition to booking destinations that they know well, families will likely travel without additional family members or friends and will avoid group tours. It’s expected they will be enticed by discounts and will book mid-range hotels or agro-tourism trips in rural destinations. Accommodations close to open-air parks and nature are also expected to feature prominently in family travel plans.

Harison said the report doesn’t take into account the rash of multisystem inflammatory syndrome cases that were reported in May, a rare but serious complication experienced by some children who have been infected with Covid-19. As more is learned, Harison predicts “we will see stronger impact on family decisions to leave home for vacations — for good or for bad.” 

3. The backpacker

Age: 18-28 years old

Backpackers are expected to travel internationally sooner rather than later as their aversion to travel in troubled times is lower than other groups. Like young professionals, backpackers are young (some even in their upper teens), single, and they trend male. 

Backpackers are more likely to weather the economic instability caused by Covid-19 by traveling.

Hinterhaus Productions

Also like professionals, they are motivated to travel for reasons that relate to work — though in this case, it’s likely a lack of it. Backpackers are more likely to ride out periods of protracted unemployment or to take leaves of absence from three to 12 months in order to travel.

As such, they are expected to travel for longer periods than the other two groups and stay in heavily discounted mid-range hotels and hostels.

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