There is more optimistic news for the travel industry.
MMGY Travel Intelligence has released the results of its 2021 “Spring Edition” of the Portrait of American Travelers survey.
The research indicates unprecedented optimism from leisure travelers in advance of the summer travel season, and MMGY’s Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI) rose to 119, which is on par with pre-pandemic levels.
These results indicate that U.S. adults are thinking much more positively about travel.
However, the research also shows that, while there is an increase in the intent to travel, Americans still have concerns about safety precautions. With increased vaccinations and decreasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, perceptions of safety remain below pre-pandemic levels, lingering 12 points lower.
“It has been a devastating year for the travel industry, but companies have remained incredibly resilient and steadfast in their commitment to meeting travelers’ needs and concerns,” said Chris Davidson, executive vice president, 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 top states for travelers are Hawaii, Florida, California, Colorado, Alaska and New York. However, certain cities have seen large decreases in visitors, including Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The survey found that just 19 percent of Americans expressed interest in international travel in the next six months, which is down from 24 percent in January of 2020.
Road trips continue to boom.
Three in 5 U.S. adults (62 percent) expect to take at least one leisure vacation during the next six months with the preferred mode of transportation being a personal car.
Two in 5 (38 percent) indicated that they will take a domestic flight. I
n the next 12 months, four in five (81 percent) of U.S. adults expect to take at least one trip.
When it comes to spending, those who intend to travel within the next 12 months expect to take 3.7 overnight leisure trips this year and spend an average of $2,415 on those trips. Gen-x and Boomers intend to take fewer trips than Gen Zs and Millennials, however, they intend to spend more.
Travelers are also on the lookout for deals. Travelers’ perceptions of the affordability of travel is the only metric that went up during the pandemic as they expected travel companies would slash prices with reduced demand.
MMGY Global’s CEO, Clayton Reid noted that business travel demand has historically driven fare and rate strength but the pandemic has created a “unique and historic shift” in this dynamic.
“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,” said Reid.
While the pandemic hasn’t completely shifted the mindset of travel, sustainability does weigh heavier on the minds of travelers post-pandemic and they are naturally inclined to seek out the outdoors and more open spaces in light of COVID-19. However, while older travelers are less inclined to care about their impact, 83 percent of active leisure travelers overall indicate they are open to changing some aspect of their travel behavior to reduce their impact on the environment.