With the global pandemic taking a devastating toll on the travel industry, Omio – the booking platform for travel by train, bus and flight released its EU Mobility Report comparing and analysing its internal data on train, bus and flight bookings from pre-pandemic, during and today.
“What we are noticing more and more on our platform is a so-called ‘modal shift’: more sustainable means of transport such as bus and train are gaining in popularity over air travel. However, this is not only due to the environmental awareness of travellers, but also to the increased costs, especially for airline tickets,” explains Naren Shaam, founder and CEO of Omio.
“We quickly make it transparent to travellers on our platform which option is the more climate-friendly or cheaper for them, i.e. which one they can or want to afford. Because in this cost-of-living crisis, cheap mobility is more important than ever.” Its six key findings from Omio’s five key markets – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom – provide insight into what’s to come.
A shift to more sustainable transport options – Carbon class shunned as train and bus travel become ubiquitous
In the UK, bus travel increased by 22% this summer in comparison to summer 2019, yet train bookings declined by 6% over pre-pandemic bookings. With flight cancellations and airport delays, Omio recorded a 53% drop in flight bookings this past summer over summer 2019. Compared to 2019, in the UK, travellers spent 11% more on trains and increased bus travel spending by 3%, with spends on flights up 27%.
Shaam continues: “It should not have to be more expensive to make the more sustainable choice, and up until this year it has been. Brits are now voting with their feet now ground transport provides a more comparable price or frequently offers cheaper options. This is a sign of things to come.”
Last-minute bookings increase – with most travellers booking same day travel
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant and sustained increase in the number of bookings made on same-day travel, with the majority of bookings made maximum a week in advance. Compared to summer 2019, Omio reports a 165% increase in bookings happening on the day of travel and a 50% decrease in bookings 31+ days in advance.
Short-distance trips are being prioritised
With international border closures and travel restrictions enforced, short-distance journeys (less than 250 miles) using ground transport for these distances have increased, implying a preference for trips that are closer to home.
Journeys by bus of more than 745 miles decreased by 73% over 2019, while shorter journeys under 250 miles have increased by 8%. On the rails, there was a significant drop of 93% in train journeys over 745 miles when compared to summer 2019, while journeys of under 250 miles increased by 4%.
Flight bookings have been pretty consistent in terms of distance travelled with a minor increase of 3% in short-haul (under 250 miles) flights, and 2% in long-haul (over 745 miles) flights. Mid-distance flights to destinations 250-500 miles away are down by 6%.
Domestic travel is here to stay
As borders closed, people sought solace in trips closer to home. Seemingly, they liked what they found, as data shows the number of people taking staycations continues to increase.
The UK follows the average EU trend, where Omio has seen a 52% decrease in cross-border trips and an 8% increase in domestic trips, compared to the summer of 2019. However, there’s been an increase in cross-border trips when compared to the summers of 2020 when there was a 64% decrease compared to summer 2019, and 2021 when the company saw a 78% decrease compared to summer 2019.
People are increasingly travelling in pairs – consciously coupling
Throughout the pandemic, solo travel became the norm, but in summer 2022, Omio saw the rise of travel in pairs. For the first half of 2022, Omio noted a significant increase in bookings of more than one person, while the trend of booking travel for two has remained higher than the same periods in 2019. Group bookings of more than 3 people was not a sustained behaviour. Individual bookings stabilised, returning to the same (or very similar) amounts when compared to summer 2019.