Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US COVID-19 And Travel: A Year On market, including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Travel is in a much different state now than it was one year ago. In the summer of 2020, rising COVID-19 cases created fear and uncertainty about the safety of travel. Americans were not sure when they would feel comfortable venturing out again. Now, travelers have a better idea of when they will return to travel (if they haven’t already) and are bringing with them a list of long-term demands.

Because of international lockdowns from the pandemic, total travel revenues dropped by an estimated 55% in 2020. While the pent-up demand for travel could provide the industry with a much needed boost, 35% of the population remain unwilling to travel before the pandemic ends.

Unemployment, economic uncertainty and other issues could also provide obstacles to the sector. The recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans mean that members of this demographic are wary of placing themselves among large groups of people. This doesn’t just affect Asian Americans travel habits, but also Asian tourists looking to visit the United States.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our US Holidays and Travel market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the travel
    industry.
  • How different traveler segments feel about returning to travel,
    and when.
  • The changes travel brands made during the pandemic that
    consumers want to persist.
  • How consumers will conceptualize travel post-pandemic.

Covered in this report

Brands: TravelOK, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Dragon Trail International, Delta Air Lines, Best Western.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Mike Gallinari, a leading analyst in the Holidays and Travel sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

It is a busy time in the travel industry as providers adjust to the shifting nature of life during the pandemic. Luckily for the industry, vaccines have made people more willing to travel, albeit with new demands and attitudes. Travel providers need to be cognizant of consumers’ caution, particularly given how much the industry has riding on the success of the vaccine rollout.
Mike Gallinari, Travel & Leisure Analyst
Mike Gallinari
Travel & Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Travel market definition
    • Consumer research definitions
    • COVID-19: US Context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of travel, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Scenario forecast
      • Figure 2: Scenario forecast for travel, 2015-25
    • Impact of COVID-19 on travel
      • Figure 3: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on travel, May 2021
    • Challenges
    • Some industries still face reluctant consumers
      • Figure 4: Travel activity willingness, April 2021
    • Travel holdouts remain firm in their plans
      • Figure 5: Trip intentions, April 2021
    • COVID-19 is the key barrier for the foreseeable future
      • Figure 6: Travel barriers – 2021 vs 2022, April 2021
    • Opportunities
    • Sanitation practices and cancellation policies are lasting products of the pandemic
      • Figure 7: Attitudes toward pandemic-era policies, April 2021
    • Indoor activities have been missed
      • Figure 8: Eagerness for activities post-pandemic, April 2021
    • Travelers look to take it easy in the future
      • Figure 9: Attitudes toward post-pandemic travel, April 2021
    • What it means
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Travel suffered greatly due to COVID-19, with a long recovery ahead
    • Vaccines have been the catalyst for recovery…
    • …and will continue to determine its velocity
    • Willingness to travel varies by demographic groups
    • Asians have concerns beyond the virus
  4. COVID-19 Pandemic Overview

      • Figure 10: Daily trends in number of COVID-19 cases in the US reported to CDC, Jan 22, 2020-May 19, 2021
    • January-March 2020: Discovery and first wave
      • Figure 11: Number of COVID-19 cases in the US reported to CDC, by region, Jan 22, 2020-May 19, 2021
    • April-July 2020: Uneven lockdown and uneven impact as cases climb
    • August 2020-January 2021: New leadership, a new variant and first vaccinations
      • Figure 12: COVID-19 vaccinations in the US, Dec 13, 2020-May 20, 2021
    • February 2021 onward: Double masking and the road to reopening
      • Figure 13: Projected dates for vaccination coverage, as of May 19, 2021
  5. The Economic Impact

    • A record drop and bounce back in economic activity
      • Figure 14: US GDP percent change from previous period, not seasonally adjusted, 2007-25 (forecast)
    • Employment plummets – recovers to 2016 levels
    • Unemployment rise signals broader labor issues
    • A lack of travel personnel can create poor experiences
      • Figure 15: Unemployment and underemployment rate, January 2007-April 2021
    • Consumer spending and confidence are catching up
      • Figure 16: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-April 2021
    • A high savings rate will mean more (and more valuable) travelers
      • Figure 17: Personal Saving Rate, percentage, monthly, seasonally adjusted annual rate, Jan 2019 – Mar 21
    • Travelers should be able to weather increasing fuel prices
      • Figure 18: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, January 2007-April 2021
  6. Impact of COVID-19 on Household Finances and Spending Priorities

    • Financial wellbeing is improving, despite only half of Americans thinking their financial situations are healthy
      • Figure 19: Financial health, by household income, April 29-May 13, 2021
    • Stimulus relief has been a lifeline for many
      • Figure 20: Financial situation, by household income, April 29-May 13, 2021
    • Discretionary categories show signs of rebirth
      • Figure 21: COVID-19 spending habits – higher priority, April 16-24, 2020 – March 31-April 17, 2021
  7. Travel Market Factors

    • Brands need to decide on their role in vaccine passports
    • Anti-Asian prejudice has been rising, may persist
  8. Travel Market Size and Forecast

    • COVID-19’s harm to travel was severe, and necessitates a long recovery
      • Figure 22: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of travel, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 23: US spending on travel, at current prices, 2015-25
  9. Segment Performance

    • Airline recovery will remain depressed despite recent surge
      • Figure 24: US passenger airline operating revenue and forecast, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Hotels fend for themselves, face new competition
      • Figure 25: Total US revenues and forecast for hotels and other traveler accommodations, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Cruise passengers will return in force
      • Figure 26: Number of cruise passengers sourced from US and forecast, 2015-25
  10. Scenario Forecast

    • Travel rises and falls with vaccines
      • Figure 27: Scenario forecast for travel, 2015-25
  11. Pandemic Effect on Travel

    • Travel dropped by over one third, but has revealed resiliency
      • Figure 28: Pre-pandemic vs pandemic travel, April 2021
    • Travel declines weren’t uniform among demographics
    • Older travelers
    • Asian adults
    • Middle-income adults
      • Figure 29: Leisure travel by demographics, April 2021
    • Disruption of everyday life led established travelers to travel more
      • Figure 30: Number of leisure trips, by trip timing, April 2021
  12. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Hotel alternatives, road trips and outdoor activities were big in the pandemic
    • Travelers turned away from airlines, cruises and indoor venues
    • Concepts of food and beverage, space and time will change post-pandemic
  13. Category Winners and Losers

    • Winners: Hotel alternatives, road trips, outdoor activities
    • Travelers turned to hotel alternatives when the world changed
    • Road trips endure
      • Figure 31: Travel OK “Roadtrip OK” series, July 2020
    • Travelers got a new appreciation for the outdoors
      • Figure 32: Winnebago Solis Pocket walkthrough video, May 2021
    • Losers: Airlines, cruise lines, indoor venues
    • Airlines needed bailing out, still await the opening of borders
    • Lockdown forces cruise lines to pivot to the horizon
      • Figure 33: Norwegian Cruise Lines “Break Free” ad, November 2020
    • Indoor attractions rely on traveler confidence, but find a new marketing vector
  14. Redefining the Future

    • Airlines: Food and beverage redefined
    • Accommodations: Space redefined
    • Tourism: Time redefined
  15. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Young, high-income travelers are the short-term focus
    • Travelers want sanitation, cancellation policies to continue
    • Among holdouts, prioritize upgrades over destinations
    • Highlight the great indoors
    • COVID-19 will be a lingering travel concern
    • Expect travelers to slow down
  16. Current Consumer Mindset

    • Fear is subsiding one year after pandemic lockdowns
      • Figure 34: Share of adults worried about COVID-19 exposure, March 2020 – May 2021
    • Lifestyle concerns follow suit
      • Figure 35: Share of adults worried about coronavirus impact on lifestyle, March 2020 – May 2021
    • The pandemic experience inspired reflection
    • Family first
    • New view of health and wellness
      • Figure 36: Post COVID-19 priority changes, May 2021
    • Masks still provide a level of comfort despite new guidelines
      • Figure 37: Level of comfort with activities, May 2021
  17. Travel Until the Pandemic Ends

    • There is a long trail of travelers waiting to return
      • Figure 38: Future travel plans, April 2021
    • Appeal to young, high-HHI travelers now; appeal to others’ safety concerns
      • Figure 39: Future travel plans, April 2021
    • Brands need to stay the course in instilling confidence in travelers
      • Figure 40: Travel activity willingness, April 2021
    • Airlines, hotels and indoor venues face strong reluctance
      • Figure 41: Travel activity holdouts, April 2021
    • Travelers want sanitation and lenient change policies to continue
      • Figure 42: Attitudes toward pandemic-era policies, April 2021
    • Satisfy current travelers’ demands to encourage the reluctant
      • Figure 43: Attitudes toward pandemic-era policies, by age group and HHI, April 2021
  18. Motivating Travel Holdouts

    • Travel holdouts may be swayed more by upgrades than destinations
      • Figure 44: Trip intentions, April 2021
    • Encourage young travelers to make up for lost time in a big way
      • Figure 45: Trip intentions, by age group, April 2021
  19. Desired Travel Activities

    • Emphasize indoor travel activities
      • Figure 46: Eagerness for activities post-pandemic, April 2021
    • Show older travelers the restaurant scene, younger ones the social scene
      • Figure 47: Eagerness for activities post-pandemic, by age group, April 2021
    • Keep high-income travelers abreast of international developments
      • Figure 48: Eagerness for activities post-pandemic, by HHI, April 2021
  20. Post-pandemic Travel

    • COVID-19 is the main barrier to travel, but education is welcome
      • Figure 49: Travel barriers – 2021 vs 2022, April 2021
    • Focus on Asian travelers in 2022
      • Figure 50: Travel barriers – 2021 vs 2022, by race and Hispanic origin, April 2021
    • Young travelers are in for a busy 2022
      • Figure 51: Travel barriers – 2021 vs 2022, by age group and HHI, April 2021
    • Brands need to meet traveler demands for relaxation
      • Figure 52: Attitudes toward post-pandemic travel, April 2021
    • Slow and conscious wins over young travelers
      • Figure 53: Attitudes toward post-pandemic travel, by age, April 2021
    • Appeal to travel-hungry, but value-oriented Black and Hispanic travelers
      • Figure 54: Attitudes toward post-pandemic travel, April 2021
  21. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  22. Appendix – The Market

    • Sales and forecasts
      • Figure 55: Total US sales and forecast of travel, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 56: Total US sales and forecast of travel, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 57: US passenger airline operating revenue and forecast, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 58: US passenger airline operating revenue and forecast, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 59: Total US revenues and forecast for hotels and other traveler accommodations, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 60: Total US revenues and forecast for hotels and other traveler accommodations, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 61: Number of cruise passengers sourced from the US, 2015-25
  23. Scenario Forecast Data

      • Figure 62: Scenario forecast for travel, 2020-25
      • Figure 63: Scenario forecast for airlines, 2015-25
      • Figure 64: Scenario forecast for airlines, 2015-25
      • Figure 65: Scenario forecast for accommodations, 2015-25
      • Figure 66: Scenario forecast for accommodations, 2015-25
      • Figure 67: Scenario forecast for cruise passengers, 2015-25
      • Figure 68: Scenario forecast for cruise passengers, 2015-25
  24. COVID-19 Data

      • Figure 69: COVID-19 cases in the US reported to CDC, by age group, Jan. 22, 2020-May 19, 2021
      • Figure 70: COVID-19 deaths in the US reported to CDC, by age group, Jan. 22, 2020-May 19, 2021
      • Figure 71: COVID-19 cases in the US reported to CDC, by race/ethnicity, Jan. 22, 2020-May 19, 2021
      • Figure 72: COVID-19 deaths in the US reported to CDC, by race/ethnicity, Jan. 22, 2020-May 19, 2021
      • Figure 73: COVID-19 cumulative case rate per 100,000 population in the US, by percentage of county population in poverty, January 23, 2021-May 18, 2021
      • Figure 74: COVID-19 cumulative death rate per 100,000 population in the US, by percentage of county population in poverty, January 23, 2021-May 18, 2021
  25. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 75: Conditions that increase comfort in travel, by age group, March 2021
      • Figure 76: Conditions that increase comfort in travel, by HHI, March 2021
      • Figure 77: Reasons to travel post-pandemic, by age group, May 2020
      • Figure 78: Comfort with travel activities, by age group, May 2020

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