Top summer travel trends: resorts and road trips
If 2020 was the summer of road trips, 2021 is the summer of seaside resorts.
While many of last year’s trends persist – vacation home reservations and car rentals are among the few segments of the travel industry that have exceeded their pre-pandemic levels – new trends are emerging. . And these trends are decidedly luxurious in nature, even if they are less distant than in The Before Times. This summer, Americans are relaxing (and working) on ââNorth America’s sandy beaches.
Overall, summer 2021 means a return to more traditional leisure travel.
âLast summer was like the carefully designed pod, wasn’t it? Yes, you can see family or friends, but you have to plan, ask lots of questions and be choreographed, âAirbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer Nate Blecharczyk told Recode. âSuddenly people aren’t talking about pods anymore, right? They talk about getting the shot and then spending time. “
As vaccination rates rise and the travel industry picks up its course, many people are flying for the first time in over a year. But rather than traveling to cities or going abroad, they opt for national or Mexican beaches.
A list of this summer’s top destinations for American travelers is basically a rundown of North American beach towns: Miami, Myrtle Beach, Key West, Cancun, San Juan, Honolulu, and Tulum are all on top, according to data from May from Tripadvisor. In comparison, 2019 List was dominated by major international cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Sydney and Tokyo. Of course, part of this has to do with travel restrictions in different countries, making domestic travel an obvious route – but even in the United States, many of the top destinations fit the same profile.
And on these beaches, travelers opt for packages like all-inclusive resorts, where there are fewer unknowns. These packages often include accommodation, food, activities, and even trips to a single destination. They welcome customers who want to travel in a more contained and conservative way than usual – a more attractive method in the aftermath of a pandemic.
As a result, these types of luxury resorts could recover faster than the travel industry as a whole.
âThey have that kind of enclave tourism, where you can go, you can completely separate yourself from the world, basically, and get off the flight, take a private cab, get to the hotel, and you have it all there. “said Wouter Geerts, senior research analyst at Travel Industry Intelligence Platform Skift search.
Decius Valmorbida, President of the Travel Unit at Travel Technology Company Amadeus, refers to this as a âbubble tripâ, where people want a âfull and more controlled experienceâ compared to previous trends where consumers have opted for âmore adventures, more personalized and personalized experiencesâ. For a family traveling to Key West, this could mean being picked up by the resort at the airport and spending your entire trip at resort property.
It also means a technology increase dedicated to avoiding other people, like automatic check-in, contactless payments and keyless entry. Some all-inclusive resorts also require Covid-19 testing, both pre-travel and on-site, to help maintain the safe atmosphere.
The idea of ââbubble travel is also spreading beyond the United States, to neighboring countries with similar vaccination rates or to places where travel is frequent, as well as to more isolated places. The Maldives, a South Asian island nation, for example, saw a 66% increase in searches for a two-week vacation compared to 2019, according to data from Amadeus. Previously, this trip could have been a trip through Europe instead.
âYou would have a concert here, a trade fair there, or whatever you go to, so you would see a lot more movement than now, when someone is literally looking for a remote island in the middle of India. Ocean, âsaid Valmorbida.
In addition to seeking safety and seclusion, the trend towards luxury resorts is encouraged by having a little more money. Many Americans were able to save money during the pandemic in 2020, in part thanks to do not spend it on things like vacations. As a result, they’re splurging a bit in 2021.
Sixty-one percent of people polled in an American Express poll said they plan to spend more than they normally would on vacation this year because they won’t be able to travel in 2020.
The travel industry has a long way to go
Globally, the travel market has yet to rebound. And a full comeback could take years, although the US market is closer than others thanks to relatively high vaccination rates.
Air travel in 2021 is expected to return to just 43% of 2019 levels, according to the International Air Transport Association. However, the US domestic air travel market could return later this summer, according to a travel analysis company. ForwardKeys, whose data shows confirmed bookings return to 2019 levels in the first week of August. However, the destination of these flights is very different, as airlines abandon business destinations in exchange for more popular leisure spots.
Cruises, perhaps the segment of travel most devastated by the coronavirus pandemic – they have even been called “floating petri dishesâDue to the number of outbreaks on cruise ships at the start of the pandemic – are coming back, but unevenly. Cruises to the Caribbean, a popular destination for American travelers, are should recover faster than other sites, in part due to the proximity of both the more dynamic US market and their (very reliable) customers.
âOne thing that the cruise industry really has for itself is a very loyal customer base,â said Geerts of Skift Research, noting that at the start of the pandemic, cruise passengers were much more likely than airline customers to postpone their trips rather than cancel them.
âPeople who love cruising really love cruising,â he said.
Another summer of road trips, Airbnbs and remote working
There are, however, pockets of the travel industry that have recovered and are doing even better than ever, including car and vacation home rentals through sites like Vrbo or Airbnb. Their success, in turn, may be linked to other trends that were popular during the pandemic and are now accelerating through this summer.
Car rentals have returned to pre-pandemic levels in North America, although they are still well below those around the world, according to Skift Research data. They were driven by the continued popularity of the great American road trip. This Memorial Day weekend, location intelligence provider Arrivedist predicts that there will be 38.5 million car trips to the United States, 46% more than last year and a level 2.4% higher than in 2019. While many are again taking the air, many others still rely on cars for trips they might have already made by air. The fastest growing road travel segment is for trips over 250 miles.
Vacation rentals have also rebounded, although this varies by location.
In the first quarter of this year, Airbnb posted higher revenue than in the first quarter of 2019, and CEO Brian Chesky predicted earlier this week “the biggest travel rebound in a century.”
âA lot of people have discovered it or are using it a lot more,â Geerts of Skift said of vacation rentals.
The growth in vacation rentals is driven in part by Americans’ desire for the relative safety and seclusion of the great outdoors, after many months spent indoors. Indeed, the success of some vacation rentals can be largely linked to their proximity to the outside world.
âTo put it very simply, if you have a secluded place with access to water, or a mountain, or a park, you’ve had a 2020 killer,â Cree Lawson, Founder and CEO of Arriveist, told Recode . “If your city requires you to go through a very small, crowded place like a subway to get in or out, that probably wasn’t that good.”
In 2019, all of Airbnb’s top 10 locations were cities and accounted for 10% of all bookings, according to Blecharczyk. It is now at 5 percent. Meanwhile, rural travel has grown to about a fifth of all Airbnb nights booked.
This summer main Airbnb destinations in the United States are all rural or beach locations, including Whitefish, MT (near Glacier National Park); Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Panama City Beach, Florida; and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (on the Great Lakes and home to the Hiawatha National Forest).
The ability to work from home – or anywhere – has also dramatically accelerated the desire to rent entire homes, where people can live and work for extended periods of time.
âPeople can travel anytime, they travel more places and they stay longer. The lines between travel, life and work are blurring, âAirbnb’s Chesky said in a recent announcement of a series of upgrades designed to take advantage of these trends. Updates include more options to find flexible dates and even locations, as travel isn’t necessarily limited to vacations or weekends. Since deploying its flexible dates tool in February, more than 100 million searches have used it.
People can also stay longer. Stays longer than 28 days represent about a quarter of nights booked on Airbnb, up from 14% in 2019. More than half of these stays are reserved for people who say they work or study.
This summer, they are more likely to be working from the beach.