Travel Insights: Holiday Travel

November 23, 2021  |  Victoria Simmons

Travel & Tourism

After nearly two years of paused travel plans and cancelled get-togethers, Americans are eager to venture out this holiday season. Over half of all Americans plan to travel for at least one holiday this year, signaling increased confidence in the safety of travel. Recent developments like the Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds and the opening of international travel to the U.S. will catalyze a more normal holiday season of traveling and gathering together and will increase travel throughout this winter.

1. COVID Considerations

Consumers are greeting this holiday season with a greater sense of confidence and excitement. There is a sense of determination – fewer travelers are willing to change their travel plans or adjust their holiday traditions due to COVID-19. Yet, COVID-19 is still a consideration – many consumers support vaccination verification as a travel requirement and are choosing destinations with minimal crowding and strong COVID protocols.

Implications: This season travel brands have an unprecedented opportunity to focus holiday marketing efforts around giving the gift of travel not only to inspire would-be travelers to dream about idyllic experiences, but to plan and book them. Brands and destinations with strong health and safety programs are in a great position to capture demand.

2. Trip Types

While many will seek intimate, cozy Airbnbs or relaxing, warm-weather destinations, urban destinations are experiencing a comeback: cities like New York City are one of the most popular trip types. Travelers also plan to continue the tradition of visiting their hometown or college town for the holidays. With travelers’ increased confidence in travel safety, they will look to take guided tours, visit major destinations and attend ticketed events. Destinations with holiday festivals and light displays will be especially appealing.

Implications: Provide consumers who are looking to actively engage through unique experiences, events and entertainment with opportunities to make good on what they’ve missed over the last year and a half. As travelers look to social media for inspiration, fulfill their desire for holiday cheer and happiness by focusing content on promoting a family getaway, nurturing a romantic relationship, giving a loved one something to look forward to, or focusing on self-care.

3. Splurging Over Skimping

Consumer confidence is not only increasing in travel safety – Americans now feel more confident in their financial security. This year, money is no object to many consumers. They’re treating themselves and others – to travel, gifts and experiences. Consumers will seek travel brands with unique experiences and gift ideas, options to upgrade and opportunities to spread holiday cheer.

Implications: Rather than pushing deals or discounts, drive longer stays by building out experiences that feel fresh and new, exotic or luxurious. For those ready to deliver, eco-conscious travel options are a unique selling point. Make giving travel easy with annual passes, gift cards or vouchers that can be redeemed when the time is right. Holiday travel and experience gift giving is accelerating beyond pre-pandemic levels, with over 80% of Millennials preferring to purchase experiences over material goods.

4. Family Time

With the COVID-19 vaccine providing more confidence in group gatherings, travelers are seeking to make up for lost family time and missed holidays. While most will get together with friends or relatives, some with 10+ people, many are planning on smaller groups or requiring protocols for participating in the gathering. For parents, the vaccination status of their children is an important holiday travel decision driver, and approval of the vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds could not have come at a better time.

Implications: Bolster growing travel confidence and the need to connect with family by highlighting products and experiences that are aligned with health and safety protocols. Families will be looking for memory-making activities that feel safe for multiple generations to participate.

5. International Connections

While the majority of American travelers have their short-term sight set on domestic trips, the opening of international borders has created opportunities for loved ones to be reunited, and travelers to start planning for their next big escape.

Implications: Travel brands should help facilitate reunions between loved ones and anticipate a continual growth in international travelers. It’s time to re-engage international marketing efforts, particularly those focused on the European market.

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This content series is a collaboration between BVK Travel and BVK Insights.

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is Senior VP, Travel at BVK

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