As we’ve seen from prior jobs reports, the Travel industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and is one of the industries that has the furthest to go in terms of economic recovery.
But as vaccines proliferate, the travel industry is gearing up to see travelers resume old habits and some new ones, too.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Travel
A report from Tourism Economics from January 2021 pains a grim picture of the impact of the coronavirus in 2020:
- Travel spending declined by 42% in 2020 (nearly $500 billion dollars) from 2019
- Slow progress throughout the year stalled in the final quarter of 2020 due to a decline in business travel
- Hotel occupancy averaged 44% in 2020, a decline of over 30% of the previous year’s numbers.
- Road trips and visits to local ski destinations became popular as an option throughout the pandemic over flying and going to far-flung locales.
Consumer sentiment is cautiously optimistic
The Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Report shows that consumers want to travel but are cautious about it.
- Half of travelers surveyed want to wait until vaccines are widely available to travel again.
- Half of travelers also said that they are excited about travel in the near term.
- Many travelers are contemplating the great outdoors for their next travel adventure, including scenic national parks, beaches and other warm weather destinations.
Business Travel Recovery
The Global Business Travel Association looked at travel attitudes among the business community and found a large scale discomfort with gathering in groups like sporting events, concerts, indoor parties and dining.
- A quarter of those surveyed said they are confident in a return to normalcy in the summer of 2021
- Two thirds of respondents want companies to take an an active role in the vaccine rollout by encouraging consumers to take the vaccine and offering reliable info on where to get it
- According to the iMeet Survey of Meeting Planners, more than half of planners have requests for proposals for 2021. 85% of those surveyed don’t think that meeting organization will return to normal until 2023, however.
Travel Trends to Watch:
- Touchless is here to stay: the use of touchless checkins and QR codes to expedite the travel process was an integral part of many company’s approach to new challenges and we expect it to remain a major part of the travel industry moving forward.
- Making up for lost time: as the vaccine rolls out and folks who have been locked in for nearly a year begin to move about the country and world freely again, there is a goldmine of opportunity for companies and destinations to gain a new group of returning customers.
- Flexible booking: in order to encourage travel, many airlines, tour companies and hotels have begun to offer more flexible policies regarding cancellation and we expect that to continue well into the recovery period.
- Innovations in travel retail: Travel retail has been especially hard hit in the pandemic, forcing professionals in that industry to adopt creative solutions to pressing dilemmas in the industry. Look for future articles here specific to the travel retail industry.