Pent-Up Demand Gives Rise To ‘Revenge Travel’

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Research on consumer sentiments shows the pandemic has hardly hampered travellers’ desire of getting away, and Washington Post says there’s a new buzzword to describe this apparent pent-up demand: “revenge travel.”

The concept of "revenge travel" is derived from the notion of “revenge spending.” According to Washington Post, revenge spending "emerged in China in the 1980s with descriptions of burgeoning consumer demand following the poverty of the Cultural Revolution." We've seen this in action over the past few months, when Chinese consumers fuelled a resurgent spending on luxury goods as strict stay-at-home orders eased across the country. In April, for example, a single Hermès store pocketed US$2.7 million in a single day.

This same pattern applies to travel. 

A Harris Poll survey of 2,500 U.S. travellers in early May found the desire to travel had only increased as the crisis deepened. The results indicate travellers from the hardest-hit states were the most eager to travel within the following four months. Respondents cited reconnecting with loved ones and a change of scenery as key motivators to travel. 

This shows the pandemic is not so much changing our motivations to travel as it is putting a new spin on some of the core reasons we travel, Philip Pearce, foundation professor of tourism at James Cook University in Australia, told Washington Post. 

“Usually this motive is to forget or leave work stresses,” he wrote. “Now it is about leaving the stresses of the lived-in community and house/apartment life to be in another place where worrying about the problem of the pandemic is less pressing.”

Experts are already forming theories as to where revenge travel hotspots might emerge. Sparkloft Media analyzed millions of online public posts to measure consumer perceptions. It found road trips are trending in social conversations among U.S. travellers, leading to classic driving destinations being primed for a much quicker recovery than international travel. 

Experts are turning to China for reassuring clues as to how other countries may recover. Chinese domestic airline passengers are back to around 60 to 70% of pre-crisis levels, Steve Saxon, a Shenzhen-based partner at McKinsey, told Washington Post.

Likewise, In May, a report by McKinsey & Company found Chinese confidence in domestic travel had risen by 60% from its shutdown lows as much of the country reopened. 

But when coronavirus cases rise, the demand for travel falls, Saxon observed. 

Worsening outbreaks around parts of the world make it impossible to predict with confidence when tourism markets will recover, but many aviation industry execs say it won’t happen before an effective vaccine is widely available.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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