The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) has released new data that touches on Ontario's travel trends and sentiments
Shared on Wednesday (May 3), the research highlights Ontarians’ current concerns and preferences around travel, and opportunities for travel agents to highlight the value of consumer protection.
“We are sharing this report to provide additional insights for Ontario's registered travel agencies, booking websites, and tour operators,” said Richard Smart, TICO’s CEO. “By having additional data on the issues that are top-of-mind for consumers, there may be new opportunities for TICO registrants to tailor their services to address consumer concerns.”
The sampling for the research, executed by PMG Intelligence, included 1,209 Ontario residents who were surveyed in January of 2023.
The study looks at changing attitudes towards travel over the past five years, noting that 53 per cent of respondents said they are more likely to travel within Ontario, and 44 per cent within Canada, while 26 per cent say they are less likely to travel internationally than previously.
It also looks at factors that drive a consumer’s travel purchase decision, comparing 2021 to now, citing that destination and price remain the two top factors in one’s decision to travel.
However, committing to travel based on factors like travel restrictions and COVID-19 safety have halved.
This went from being a high a priority in 2021 to only 34 per cent of respondents saying it is now a consideration.
This year, 71 per cent of Ontarians say they would consider booking travel with a major online website, and nearly half say they'd book directly with a supplier.
Just 29 per cent of respondents said they would book in person with a travel agent, while 16 per cent said they would book with a travel agent over the phone.
The study also asked participants how confident they were in getting accurate information when booking travel. Through all channels, travellers are more confident this year, compared to 2021, with suppliers and travel agents being the most trusted sources.
Moreover, two in three respondents are “always” or “often” concerned about protecting the financial investment they make in travel.
When they're making travel plans, have three top concerns: travel being delayed or cancelled due to forces their control, being stranded or stuck away from home and not having the proper medical care.
The pandemic has also altered expectations and behaviours, it seems.
Half of respondents said they expect to be fully refunded, or offered other similar travel, if travel is cancelled for any reason other than their own.
Additionally, 36 per cent said they were more likely to book travel with flexible change/cancellation policies today and nearly a third said they feel travel is more complex now than prior to the pandemic.
As well, 33 per cent say they are more likely to purchase travel insurance today.
More than half of respondents trust the travel industry overall, the study found, which is similar to TICO’s results from 2021.
Three-in-four respondents feel it is “critical” or “important” that the travel agency they are booking through is regulated, including three-in-10 who feel it is “critical,” the study notes.
The perceived value in the Compensation Fund has also dipped, dropping in priority from 40 to 36 percent.
Click here to read the entire report.