A new study from MMGY Travel Intelligence, MMGY Global’s research and insights division, shows optimism among American travellers ahead of the summer season is back to pre-pandemic levels. MMGY Travel Intelligence has released findings from its 2021 Spring Edition of its Portrait of American Travelers® survey, now in its 31st edition. The results illustrate the pandemic’s impact on the current economic environment, prevailing social values, and emerging travel habits, preferences and intentions of Americans.
The Spring Edition’s Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI) rose to 119 (pre-pandemic levels), affirming that US adults are thinking much more positively about travel than they were throughout this past year.
While there is much optimism, concerns for safety continue to affect demand, although not slowing what is a considerable increase in travel intent. Along with positive signs such as increased vaccinations and decreasing Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations, safety remains below its pre-pandemic levels. At the time of the survey, it lingered 12 points lower on the TSI than it did in February 2020.
“It has been a devastating year for the travel industry, but companies have remained incredibly resilient and steadfast in their commitment to meeting travellers’ needs and concerns,” says Chris Davidson, EVP, MMGY Travel Intelligence. “The results from the study show that we are already in the midst of an impressive rebound, and travel companies should leverage these insights and use them to guide their strategies in the months ahead.”
The survey indicates the top states of interest among US travellers over the next two years are Hawaii (64%), Florida (62%), California (53%), Colorado (50%), Alaska (49%) and New York (49%). It is also important to note that some destinations – Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C. – have experienced large decreases in interest, which is likely the result of extensive political and social unrest that occurred in these destinations throughout the past year. Interest in international destinations, however, remains relatively low with only 19% of leisure travelers indicating that they are likely to take an international trip in the next six months – down from 24% in January 2020.
Corporate business travel demand has historically driven fare and rate strength. However, MMGY Global’s CEO, Clayton Reid, foresees a unique and historic shift in this dynamic ahead. “MMGY Global believes the next six months will see a unique environment whereby weekend leisure travel demand is so significant that it pushes leisure demand to weekdays, thereby displacing traditional corporate travel. We are calling this ‘reverse compression’. We think trip volume will not only be led by leisure demand but that fare and rate strength will also come first from consumers and second from business, even in market environments and periods where that just doesn’t happen,” says Reid.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on travel behaviours. US travellers are doing more driving than flying, showing preference to outdoor destinations rather than cities and, perhaps unexpectedly, expressing an increasing focus on the impact of their travel.
For more information about these insights or to purchase the Portrait of American Travelers® report, visit www.mmgyintel.com/products/traveler-profiles. The travel trend information presented in the report was obtained from interviews with 4,500 US adults in February 2021.
MMGY Global is an integrated marketing firm specialising in the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries and has eight operating brands across the world.