After a year that most would like to put behind us, 2021 is around the corner. With the New Year comes a new perspective, as we look toward a brighter future for travel. Vaccines are already being administered, and as more receive it, travel’s rebound will be in full swing.
Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global, the global travel, tourism and hospitality marketing company, predicts the global travel recovery reaching pre-pandemic levels by early 2022, with growth records in Q2 and Q3 of 2021, thanks to savings rates at their peak, consumers restricted in their movements and spending, and people going months without seeing family, friends, and colleagues.
Reid said there is growing optimism in MMGY’s social analytics tracking data that, along with the announcement of global vaccines, that will lead to stronger than anticipated activity.
Here, Reid shared his predictions for the year ahead:
1. The rise of “vaxications”
Pent up demand for travel and the promise of vaccines by this summer for the general public, may result in a rush of “vaxication” bookings mid-way through the year. These are trips people may book in anticipation of being vaccinated and/or take as soon as they’ve received their vaccination, coinciding with the lifting of many travel restrictions.
2. Pack your vax
Proof of vaccination may be required in some cases in order to board planes, visit international destinations or attend special events and business conferences. This is currently a hot discussion topic amongst the industry and governments across the globe. According to MMGY Global’s recent research, half of American travelers say they will get the vaccine as soon as possible, 40% will wait to see if it’s effective and 9% say they won’t get the vaccine.
3. Road trips will rule
Road trips quickly became the most popular form of domestic travel this year, with mountain and beach resorts as the top destinations. Reid anticipates this trend to continue as the combination of the ease and safety of car travel and ability to socially distance outdoors will be a perfect fit for travelers’ comfort levels.
4. Air travel will take off in Q2
Reid says we should anticipate that airplanes will be kept on the ground into Q1 2021 to help strengthen fares and keep costs reduced, with a focus on smaller route maps, non-traditional service patterns and leisure-driven operations until commercial demand returns. He also expects intent to pick-up dramatically in Q2 and international traffic to outperform domestic recovery, on a relative basis, once the business community sees normalcy.
5. Lodging looks promising
Early recovery has already started for leisure resorts in mountain and beach locations, and pockets of economy lodging exceed 50% occupancy today. Shared accommodations and rentals have also strengthened their market share position. City center and large group hotels will face a slower road to recovery.
6. Cruisers are committed
Ahead of the first ships setting sail from the U.S. this summer, cruise lines are reporting strong bookings. Though there will be some reduction in itineraries for 2021, we expect demand to be spurred on by travel agents.
7. Bullish on business travel
MMGY Global’s December data says that 57% of business travelers intend to take a trip in the next six months, and Mr. Reid says comments made by the heads of major corporations suggest there is a strong desire to get back to in-person work.
8. Travel With Purpose
Travelers will seek more purpose-led tour packages to destinations not traditionally in the rotation - think the Arctic, small Mediterranean & Asian islands and off-the-beaten path wildlife locales.