54% of luxury travel and hospitality executives say private aviation will have “more of a central role,” according to, The Future of Private Travel Report from VistaJet

A survey conducted in December on behalf of VistaJet with over 650 travel and hospitality executives focused on High New Worth consumers found private aviation will have a higher profile role in the more significant travel history moving forward.

The study included representatives from luxury hotels and resorts, tour operators, travel agents, and travel designers worldwide.

More than half (54%) said private jets would play a more central role moving forward, compared to 20% who said the same as before and 26% who see a smaller part.

Related:
New survey of new private jet users shows 96% expect to continue using private aviation post-COVID-19

The enthusiasm for private jets is perhaps not particularly surprising. While private jet charter operators saw business climb to better than 90% of pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of 2020, it was not so for the broader luxury travel industry.

43% saw revenue drop by at least 90%

Over three quarters (77.8%) of executives surveyed said their businesses saw net revenue fall by more than 60% last year. A staggering 43% saw revenue drop by at least 90%.

What’s more, nearly two-thirds (65.5%) said they expect a slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic despite the ongoing vaccination effort. Eighty-three percent (83%) have at least some concern that customers will be unwilling to travel if they have to undergo more hassle in doing so.

One European travel advisor told the researchers, “Adaptability is the key. You need to be able to flex your offering and approach at very short notice due to the significant changes being made on a weekly basis.”

Travel designers said the ever-changing restrictions on international travel is causing clients to focus more on domestic destinations. Separately, research from Wing-X, Argus TRAQPak, and Tuvoli have shown U.S. second-home destinations such as the Hamptons on Long Island’s East End, Cape Cod, Aspen, and South Florida.

Don’t expect discounts

For the broader luxury travel industry, the COVID pandemic has meant cutting capacity. Researchers said many businesses had put strategic plans on halt. The vast majority of businesses (89%)
are maintaining or reducing capacity. Only 11% are increasing inventory in the coming months.

As might be expected, marketing is taking a hit. While 27% of those surveyed are planning to increase their marketing budget, 44% have reduced spending. Just 29% holding steady.

However, don’t expect a flood of deals. Two-thirds (66%) are holding steady with pricing. The rest are increasing pricing instead of cutting rates by a nearly two-to-one margin (22% to 12%).

To appeal to COVID-19 era consumers, 94.4% said they have or are considering changes to cancelation policies, although many felt they had little choice. Some 62% said they had created new products, with another 22% saying new products and services are in the works. What’s more, more businesses are increasing their focus on HNW customers, with 62.2% planning to target wealthier consumers.

Over 9 in 10 companies have taken specific action in two key areas – improving the customer experience (96.4% taking at least ‘some action’) and delivering a safer experience (94.2% taking at least ‘some action’).

More private jet partnerships

Putting a spotlight on private jet companies, 86.5% said they had increased collaborations with other providers. More than half (54%) reported partnerships “played a vital role in mitigating the impact of the pandemic.”

Expect more partnerships between private aviation providers and luxury travel companies in the future. Industry partnerships will be more important in the future, according to 78.8% of executives. Some 83% said these relationships are “useful for introductions to new customers.” A similar 83% said they are helpful for brand positioning.

The research also showed customers are increasingly expecting their providers to offer partner benefits (74.5%). Hence 70.2% told the researchers will look to establish new partnerships in the next 12 months.

Travel agents were the biggest pool of respondents (56%), followed by hotel executives (19%) and tour operators (12%). Respondents were split between Europe (49%), Asia (20%), North America (19%), the Middle East (9%), and South America (3%).

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