Travel Leaders: 70 Percent of Travelers Plan to Vacation in 2021

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As many as 99 percent of U.S. and Canadian travelers are eager to travel again, according to Travel Leaders Network. Shared during a press briefing on Tuesday, Travel Leaders Group CMO Stephen McGillivray said that travel is top of mind and clients of Travel Leaders advisors are starting to make finite plans for their next vacation.

More than one-fifth (22 percent) of the nearly 3,000 respondents hope to travel in 2020, with 70 percent stating that they plan to take a vacation in 2021. Even better: Nearly half (45 percent) are in the process of booking their next vacation: 23 percent have already booked a future vacation and 22 percent are starting to plan. Just 1 percent replied with “planning to stay home forever;” the remaining 54 percent said they were dreaming of a time when they could travel again.

A strong majority of these travelers, according to McGillivray, want to receive promotional offers—but details about supplier safety initiatives and refund/cancellation policies are still most important when it comes to bookings.

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The survey also found that flying in the U.S. and staying in a hotel are the most popular types of travel for Travel Leaders clients’ next vacation. Respondents, as expected, as seeking less crowded and outdoor-focused destinations. When asked where they are most interested in visiting next in the U.S., travelers picked National Parks most often (28 percent). “Anywhere uncrowded” was also a popular pick with more than 20 percent choosing this option. Florida, Hawaii and Alaska were the specific states that received the most votes, with California, New York and Nevada, as well as Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands trailing.  

Outside of the United States, Europe (37 percent) and the Caribbean (34 percent) are stop ranked among clients. Mexico (15 percent) followed as the third pick. In addition, most of those surveyed who said they plan to take a vacation said they will fly to their next vacation destination (47 percent), while 21 percent will drive, 17 percent said they plan to take an ocean cruise, and 5 percent opted for a river cruise.

Health and Safety Protocols

What are travelers’ biggest fears? More than half of travelers surveyed say they are concerned about the risk of being infected when traveling on a plane or cruise ship, getting stuck while away from home or being quarantined on a cruise ship or at a hotel. A lesser number named concerns about them or a family member contracting the virus while traveling, worries about getting a refund if the trip is cancelled, and concerns about family members with higher risk health conditions.

A majority of survey respondents said the following health and safety initiatives at airports, aboard aircraft and at resorts will make a big difference in their decision to travel in the future: Mandatory masks, social distancing, enhanced cleaning, temperature checks and access to sanitizing gel. For resorts, contact-free services and customizable room cleaning were also cited.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents said the requirement of a negative PCR test prior to arrival in a destination would make no difference or would be viewed as a positive, while about 40 percent said such a requirement would be a deterrent. Those concerns can be addressed with rapid testing, John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group, said, adding that widespread availability of rapid testing will result in greater acceptance of pre-trip testing and encourage more people to travel.

The survey results are validated by Travel Leaders Group’s online inquiries. Online leads declined in late March, reaching a low point on April 12 then peaking on June 14 (a midpoint between Memorial Day Weekend and Fourth of July). Following a second outbreak of COVID-19 in some areas, leads dropped again through mid-August and are now on the upswing, up 88 percent from the low in April, McGillivray said.

Close-in booking windows are also a trend among online shoppers. The majority of consumers reaching out online want to travel by the year’s end 2020, followed by January/February 2021, spring and summer. Milestone birthdays, anniversaries and honeymoons are popular reasons to travel. Camper vans and home and villa rentals are in high demand, Travel Leaders adds.

The survey was conducted in September in conjunction with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

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