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How Americans Want To Travel

There’s no doubt that most people are aching to go some way. And many are hoping and expecting hat they will be able to take a trips, or perhaps even trips, this spring and summer. But reading consumer intent, it’s important for the industry to understand how Americans want to travel. Because for now, it’s different than it was pre-pandemic. Things have changed.

The pandemic decimated the $8 trillion global travel industry but a recent survey found that as of March 2021, nearly 6 in 10 US adults say they’d be willing to travel in the next five months. This is very promising, but in order to succeed in the new post-Covid world, travel and hospitality brands must understand the new and emerging trends in this industry.

David Zietsma, SVP Strategy and Performance at Jackman, a firm specializing in customer engagement insights has highlighted a few key trends which believes will drive (pun intended) US leisure travel in 2021.

  • Traveler preferences have shifted toward the familiar, predictable, and trusted (i.e. domestic destinations, more detailed planning)
    • 56% of consumers surveyed by Airbnb prefer a domestic or local destination, versus just 21% who want to visit someplace international and farther away
    • 1 in 5 Americans say they want their destination to be within driving distance of home 
  • Road trips will boom, as they are cheaper and safer than flying (#VanLife)
    • 59% of families say they’re more likely to drive than fly on their next trip
    • The ability to work-from-anywhere will further fuel this trend
    • Interest in RVs has sky rocketed
  • A shift from mass travel to meaningful travel: people are prioritizing more personal, more meaningful trips centered on family, friends and staying close, while avoiding more adventurous journeys and packaged tours
  • Responsible travelers: consumers are taking on the role of “concerned citizens” demanding responsible travel policies: thinking more mindfully about the way they travel, why they travel, and where they go

We know from survey after survey that Americans long to get away with travel and get back to some sense of normalcy. Vaccines will help but they’e not the only answer. For travel to bounce back, especially long haul travel, we’ll need to see sustained periods of safety where COVID-19 no longer seems like a threat, economic security so people feel confident in spending money on leisure travel, and lots of anecdotal stories in the media and across fences, as people discuss fun and safe travels.