Phocuswright's U.S. Travel Market Report 2020-2024 predicted that domestic leisure travel would be the first to recover once travel resumed. Consumers validate that prediction and travelers have high hopes for 2021. According to Phocuswright's latest travel research report, U.S. Traveler Behavior: Must-Haves for Moving Forward, three in five already plan to travel domestically and one in five plan to travel internationally. But one fourth remain undecided amid the ongoing uncertainty, especially older travelers.
Expected vs. Booked
Travelers still indicate that they are hesitant to fly compared to pre-pandemic times, but more than two in five anticipate traveling by plane in 2021 (see figure below). The proportion of travelers who will journey by rail is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, while 31% plan to travel by personal vehicle.
Private rentals of homes and apartments got a boost in 2020, as many travelers steered clear of hotels, and instead sought lodging where they had greater control over personal space and minimal contact with others. Comfort in returning to hotels is on the rise in 2021, with more than three in five travelers planning to book a hotel stay. Despite all the positive signals from travelers, more than one in 10 are not yet certain what their trips will entail.
As the world continues to navigate the pandemic, leisure travel is still sought after and valued by a plurality of travelers. Travelers are considering their options and the feasibility of travel on a case-by-case basis, evaluating the various safety protocols and recreational restrictions. Overall, age demographics play a significant role in how travelers will proceed, with older individuals exercising more caution and demanding higher standards than their younger counterparts. Generally, more individualized travel will be prioritized in the near future and heightened discretion will persist.
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