Crisis and recovery – the USA FIT market
4th May 2020
Over 250 delegates attended this ETOA webinar to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the US FIT market with many more registering to receive the recording. The event was hosted by ETOA CEO Tom Jenkins and featured on its panel leaders from both Tripadvisor and Avanti.
Before COVID-19 struck, Europe was confidently predicting a bumper year for travel from the USA. Just 8 short weeks changed that, and the level of uncertainty related to the timing, speed and shape of the recovery was recognised as the central challenge. In a series of live polls participants were invited to share their views on both the immediate COVID-19 challenges and the type and speed of recovery.
Panellists expressed their views on a demand-led recovery with optimism, but discussed concerns related to airline capacity and pricing combined with uncertainty as to how local suppliers will respond. Delegates were given insights from recent Tripadvisor consumer behaviour research on anticipated booking patterns ‘post-Covid’. There was also great insight into the conditions required for consumers to get back travelling ranging from the availability of vaccines, airline capacity and the likely variability of government travel restrictions.
The nature of the recovery was debated extensively as was its timing. The panel identified the post-Covid world as a great opportunity for lesser known and rural destinations to attract more adventurous tourists whilst those most impacted by over-crowding, might consider changing their offer. There was confidence that ‘baby boomers’ would lead the FIT recovery in 2021 and 2022 although younger customers might drive demand in the short term. Flexibility of terms and conditions to reassure future travellers was clearly identified as a major driver to any rapid recovery.
The webinar closed on an optimistic note from the panellists and recognition that this crisis also gives the industry a unique opportunity to ensure that the importance of tourism is recognised and its voice heard.