If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the latest McKinsey Consulting report on China’s travel behaviors following the re-opening of the market, I encourage you to download their analysis here. The-way-back-What-the-world-can-learn-from-Chinas-travel-restart-after-COVID-19-vF

Here are some of the critical takeaways our Tourism operators and marketers can glean from the first few weeks of their experience:

  • McKinsey’s China consumer-sentiment survey shows that confidence in domestic travel rose by 60 percent over the past two weeks.
  • Domestic, even regional travelers are still cautious. They prefer to stay close to home—choosing, for example, to drive or take trains to regional destinations.
  • “Staycations” are popular too. Consumer-sentiment survey supports this finding: confidence in the safety of domestic travel by car, even over distances of more than three hours, is high.
  • Not surprisingly, the young and the nonfamily segment are more open to resuming travel. In the first wave after the crisis, 60 percent of the people who booked trips were below the age of 30—a significant increase from 43 percent in the same period last year.
  • Peak recovery is expected after September, according to McKinsey’s survey. Most travelers regard announcements from experts (54 percent) or the full reopening of schools (54 percent) as the most reliable indications of when to take the next leisure trip.
  • Outdoor scenic attractions are the most popular destinations for future travel. Food and family-themed destinations (a top-three choice) also remain popular.
  • Group and guided-tour packages have dramatically declined in popularity: McKinsey’s survey shows that only 10 percent of travelers would be likely to take big group tours for their next trips. Sixty-eight percent regard them as impossible even to consider.
  • The key thing for rebuilding demand for travel is to reassure customers that it is safe. Consumer sentiment in China shows that travel providers cannot do too much to implement safeguards to ensure hygiene.
  • Engaging customers through the latest social media are no longer emerging channels but rather “must-haves” for the travel businesses.
  • Domestic travel will return first. International travel, especially if it involves flying, will take much more time to recover. The young will go first. Travel will involve nearby destinations. Economy travel will recover more quickly. And outdoor and nature-related destinations will be more popular than congested cities.
  • To capture early demand, travel-industry players must redeploy their resources quickly to the markets that recover first—domestic and regional ones. Product features, communications, and sales channels must be retailored to match a changing customer mix: millennials and members of Gen Z are replacing baby boomers.