In a yr of cautious optimism, rescheduled plans, altering restrictions and necessities, and hope for the vacations, vacationers have had their persistence and resilience examined. And but, many have been prepared to do what it takes—take a look at pre-departure; take a look at on arrival; present proof of vaccination; reschedule—to get again out on the highway and within the skies.
Over the course of 2021, we performed quarterly surveys of American vacationers, plus analyzed our reserving information for six main U.S. holidays—Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years—to know not solely how vacationers really feel about touring throughout a pandemic, but additionally what varieties of journeys they’re reserving in addition to when (and the way) they’re truly touring.
Trying again throughout these myriad information factors, 4 journey behaviors rose above the remaining. Listed here are the highest developments that formed the world of journey this yr.
1. Street journeys and rental automotive bookings reigned
2021 was the yr of the highway journey—and the rental automotive. People hit the highway in file numbers, and rental automotive reserving information mirrored this surge in journey conduct.
Again in March, when vaccine rollouts had been simply selecting up steam within the U.S., we predicted that highway journeys had been more likely to reign as the popular mode of transport for summer season journey. At the moment, 83% of People mentioned they’d be prepared for a highway journey with a private automotive, and 60% mentioned they’d be able to take a highway journey with a rented automotive or RV, by June of this yr.
Specifically, of these planning to journey:
- 64% of vacationers deliberate to drive for Memorial Day.
- 64% deliberate to drive for Fourth of July.
- 61% deliberate to drive for Labor Day.
What we noticed in our information
If rental vehicles had been a inventory, you’d be glad together with your end-of-year return on funding, as reserving numbers soared (and soared) over the course of 2021.
Our reserving information confirmed that rental automotive reservations for Memorial Day 2021 had been 220% of 2020 ranges. And people numbers remained elevated not simply through the summer season highway journey surge for Fourth of July (262%) and Labor Day (413%), but additionally for Thanksgiving (390%), in addition to Christmas and New Years (404%).
2. Traveler confidence and issues ebbed and flowed
Whereas rental vehicles had been like a rocket ship, the method of touring itself was extra like a rollercoaster. Certainly, vacationers needed to adjust to continuously altering journey restrictions and necessities—generally with just a few days’ discover.
The ebbs and flows of the pandemic—dynamic an infection charges, vaccination campaigns, altering necessities, and specifically, new variants—all performed their components in shaping vacationers’ ranges of confidence and concern.
In March, 54% of vacationers mentioned airways having procedures in place to scale back an infection unfold, comparable to masks necessities, diminished capability on flights, sanitation procedures, and temperature checks, contributed to their confidence in returning to air journey.
As well as, 50% of vacationers mentioned airport procedures—that’s, social distancing tips, touchless check-in procedures, masks necessities, and sanitation procedures—helped them really feel extra snug taking a flight.
By Might, when 93% of our survey respondents had been vaccinated or deliberate to get vaccinated, survey information revealed that journey issues had been usually lowering. Lower than one quarter of all respondents expressed concern about every of the myriad elements of journey.
Of these vacationers who did categorical issues, staying present on journey restrictions and tips and understanding easy methods to modify reservations had been the highest issues—with the latter down 21% from our survey in March. Issues round understanding vaccine and an infection charges and infecting mates or household upon coming back from a visit had been additionally down, dropping 27% and 47%, respectively.
Might information did reveal a brand new concern: One in 4 vacationers mentioned uncertainty in regards to the guidelines for individuals who are and aren’t vaccinated involved them in regards to the subsequent time they traveled.
In August, survey information confirmed vacationers’ consolation degree with flying continued to extend; these snug flying in situations (on the time) was up practically 79% since Might. And whereas remaining a high want, airline security measures’ significance dropped 29%—due to vaccines (extra on that, under).
However by October, the Delta variant had put traveler confidence on its heels—with many People (26%) reserving journeys they had been ready to cancel or change. 1 / 4 of vacationers (25%) mentioned they had been holding off planning because of the Delta variant.
That’s not all of the Delta variant modified. Our October survey information confirmed that just about half of vacationers (47%) mentioned with a view to really feel snug flying they would want proof of vaccination or a destructive COVID-19 take a look at required for passengers. Forty-two % of vacationers needed to see airways proceed or enhance their security measures, comparable to masks necessities and COVID-19 testing mandates. As well as, greater than a 3rd (38%) of vacationers mentioned requiring vaccination or COVID-19 testing for airline workers would make them really feel snug flying. (Quickly after that survey was fielded, many U.S. airways started doing simply that.)
Journey-related issues seemed completely different then, too. Greater than a 3rd of vacationers (37%) mentioned their high concern was whether or not they may must cancel or reschedule a visit as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, necessities, or sickness. Staying updated on journey restrictions, tips, and necessities got here in second, with 35% of vacationers expressing concern about this.
And but, regardless of Delta (and Omicron) issues, our reserving information confirmed sturdy returns to air journey for Thanksgiving (298% of 2020 quantity), in addition to Christmas and New Years (320% of 2020).
3. Vaccines boosted People’ confidence
It wouldn’t be 2021 if we didn’t discuss vaccine rollouts and the following affect of vaccination standing on the world of journey.
Again in March, we requested People if vaccines had been influencing their confidence to return to journey. On the time, 59% of vacationers mentioned information in regards to the progress of the vaccine made them extra more likely to ebook journey. Thirty-five % of vacationers mentioned they’d wait to fly once more till they obtained vaccinated. Simply 8% of vacationers mentioned a vaccine wouldn’t change their willingness to journey.
In Might, our survey information confirmed that just about half (47%) of respondents deliberate to journey greater than or about the identical as they did previous to COVID-19.
For many who deliberate to journey extra, vaccines had been the highest cause individuals felt snug touring. Our survey information additionally confirmed being vaccinated was the highest want for vacationers to really feel snug flying (56% of vacationers), outranking herd immunity at 37%.
We requested these vacationers who had each been vaccinated, in addition to those that had not but been vaccinated on the time of the survey—however had been planning to be—about their supposed journey plans, 68% of respondents who’d been vaccinated mentioned that they had booked a visit since getting their shot(s) or deliberate to ebook quickly; 66% mentioned they deliberate to ebook a visit after being vaccinated.
How did People really feel about vaccine passports?
Sentiment in our surveys in direction of digital well being passports (additionally known as a well being go, vaccine passport, or COVID vaccine passport) remained constant all year long.
In March, the prospect of some sort of digital well being passport that gives proof that you just’ve been vaccinated appealed to 81% of vacationers. These vacationers mentioned they’d be prepared to make use of a digital well being passport if it meant they might journey freely.
After we requested vacationers in August if they’d use a digital well being passport and the way they felt about it (love, like, dislike, hate), 84% mentioned they’d use one, regardless in the event that they beloved the thought (49%), preferred the thought (18%), or disliked the thought (16%). Simply 16% of respondents mentioned they hated the thought of a digital well being passport and wouldn’t use one.
In October, 60% of People (who had traveled previously six months) mentioned that they had carried their CDC COVID-19 vaccination card with them on a visit and 15% used a vaccine passport app for his or her journey.
4. Holidays had been (persistently) all we ever needed
The explanation why People had been prepared to leap by way of all these hoops and adjust to myriad necessities? One phrase: holidays.
Certainly, because the begin of the yr, holidays had been the constant, primary cause People deliberate to journey.
Right here’s what vacationers informed us:
- In March, of these planning to journey in 2021, 73% deliberate to take a trip.
- By Might, that quantity rose barely to 77% of People deliberate to take a trip.
- By August, 87% deliberate to take a trip—up 10% from our prior survey.
- By October, 77% mentioned they deliberate to take a trip within the yr forward (nonetheless the highest cause).
As for the place People traveled to for trip, our information confirmed various developments for the yr:
- The hotter climes of Hawaii, California, and Florida had been high locations throughout 2021. This development kicked off over Memorial Day weekend and continued by way of to the tip of the yr.
- With a nod to 2020, outdoorsy locales continued to shake up the vacation spot rankings. Locations like Moab, UT; Anchorage, AK; Yellowstone, WY; and Colorado Springs, CO, had been in style with American vacationers.
- Whereas main metros (Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, and the like) began the yr down, by Labor Day they had been again to say their numbers one, two, and three spots (respectively) for lodging bookings.
The world of journey in 2021 was formed by the ebbs and flows of the pandemic. Whereas we will’t but say what journey in 2022 will seem like, we’re assured People will proceed to do what it takes to see (their nook of) the world—maybe by rental automotive, however undoubtedly for trip—with vaccination card, face masking, destructive take a look at outcomes, and journey paperwork du jour in hand.