Tim Hentschel, Singapore-based CEO of group booking site HotelPlanner.com with 17 years of industry experience shares his thoughts on the new travel outlooks concerning the Omricon variant, especially for the holiday season.
“We’re watching the Omicron variant closely, but at this early stage, any predictions on transmissibility, severity, or reinfection are highly speculative. Nothing wrong with being cautious, but people should remain cool, calm and collected,” says Tim Hentschel, Co-Founder & CEO, HotelPlanner. “We remain confident in the travel and hospitality industry’s near-term recovery, especially as millions from around the world are expected to travel this holiday season. For example, the TSA just screened a record 2.3 million people over Thanksgiving. We are now in the midst of the busiest holiday travel season since 2019. We believe that most travellers have already accepted that there will be new Covid variants for years to come, so Omicron is not going to keep them from executing their travel plans. With overall vaccination rates increasing and infection and hospitalization rates decreasing, on average, most travellers are shifting their risk calculus from a ‘wait and see’ approach to a ‘living and travelling with Covid’ mindset.”
Travel Tailwinds Remain Strong, Especially in U.S.
“As of October, half of US adults said they planned to fly in the next six months, and that survey was taken at the height of the Delta variant. Now that the U.S. has lifted travel restrictions from 33 previously banned countries, millions of inbound travellers will still visit the U.S. in the coming months and years, regardless of the Omicron variant or future variants. Travel confidence should remain high regardless of temporary and localized travel bans due to new Covid variants. In Europe for example, more than half of British adults plan to travel overseas next year, a 46% increase compared to this time last year. Despite all the pandemic challenges and uncertainties, the return of global travel in 2022 will have positive ripple effects across the service and hospitality industries around the world.
“Importantly, U.S. domestic leisure travel sector is anticipated to reach or even exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2022, which equates to about $2 trillion in travel spend. And the U.S. is recovering faster than overseas. To foster more travel parity, we agree with the recent WTTC recommendation that governments should enable vaccinated travellers to travel freely regardless of their country of origin of final destination.”
“In the U.S., the recovery is being led by both individual and group leisure travellers, especially Millennial and Next-Gen travellers eager for a once-in-a-lifetime ‘Friendcation.’ In fact, ‘Revenge Travel’ will be all the rage in 2022 as two years of pent-up demand turns into wanderlust for epic and exotic travel destinations. Younger travellers with more disposable income are especially eager for new adventures in “Insta-worthy’ locales, whether it’s a wedding, yoga retreat, hunting or fishing trip, ski vacation, or a family or college friend reunion. The other trend that’s here to stay is the rise of ‘Digital Nomad’ employees who want to ‘work from anywhere' on extended ‘workcations.’ Many companies, such as Spotify, are instituting a permanent telework policy, which should result in more extended hotel stays in the coming months and years.”