Americans are banking on vacations in early 2021
The latest findings of the Travel Advisors COVID-19 Sentiment Barometer (Wave II) indicate that travelers are being cautious about their international travel plans by booking with some of the longest windows advisors have ever seen. Meanwhile, there is still limited appetite for travel in the more immediate future – but the shift in interest to domestic, outdoor-focused trips continues.
The industry survey of North American travel advisors has revealed that the majority of travel being booked is for seven or more months in advance. This time frame is even longer for international travel, cruises and group tour vacations. However, there has been a slight increase in the percentage of travelers booking North American travel for the next 30 days, rising from 10% in June to 16% in July.
Overall, advisors report that 42% of all inquiries received are about U.S. destinations. Prior to COVID-19, domestic destinations made up only about 16% of all inquiries. Outdoor vacations, specifically to North American beach and mountain destinations, continue to be of most interest to clients in the next six months.
In regard to lodging, the survey found that clients appear to feel more comfortable staying in smaller, more private accommodations. Interest in short-term rentals increased slightly but still remains low overall, and there was less interest in large hotels in July than in June.
According to travel advisors, health concerns related to COVID-19 were even more of a concern in July compared to last June, with 92% of advisors indicating in July this is a barrier to booking travel. This is up from 85% in June. The growing concern for health and safety has advisors increasingly believing that promotional offers would not impact clients’ decisions to book a trip.
As travel continues to be hindered by the pandemic and a return to normalcy remains unclear, travel advisors are increasingly concerned about their business. The survey found the number of advisors who expect business to be down 75% or more in 2020 rose from 59% in June to 71% in July.
Wave II of the survey was conducted July 13–28, 2020, and includes responses from more than 500 travel advisors. Wave I of the Barometer surveyed more than 300 travel advisors from June 1–10, 2020.