Travel demand in the USA will remain robust, but the growth rate will slow slightly as travelers return to their pre-pandemic travel routines, says HotelPlanner’s Travel Expert and Chief Communications Officer, Philip Ballard.
The post-pandemic travel surge – “revenge travel” – appears to be over. While travel intentions are increasing in several countries, new reports suggest that after years of inflation and rising travel costs, people are less keen on traveling.
Philip Ballard, Travel Expert and Chief Communications Officer at HotelPlanner discussed HotelPlanner’s forecast for the next few months and how travelers can prepare themselves ahead of the upcoming travel season.
Philip’s latest comments on the end of revenge travel: “While recent industry surveys show that the leading leisure activity for Americans remains travel, 2023 projected RevPar for U.S. hotels was just revised from 6% to 4.6%, and a slightly lower growth rate projected for 2024, according to CBRE. However, the airlines are still anticipating record passenger volume for the upcoming holiday travel season, and AAA is anticipating record traffic on our nation’s highways this holiday season. Importantly, Online Travel Agencies, such as HotelPlanner, are forecasting steady and ongoing growth in the next 12 months and beyond, as more travelers seek online travel solutions at the palm of their hand.”
2022 was a record year for travel demand
It’s unlikely we’ll see another year like that for some time. In 2023, we’re seeing the travel supply/demand curve smooth out at scale. In other words, it’s becoming easier to anticipate travel demand fluctuations as travelers return to their pre-pandemic routines. The big uncertainty remains the ongoing delays and disruptions across our nation’s aviation ecosystem. When major disruptions occur, people have less confidence in the reliability (or safety) of the airport or airline. And those concerns have a negative downstream effect on the hospitality industry. So the real concern is maintaining traveler confidence, because it will take several more years, perhaps a decade, before the airlines and airports are running smoothly.
There is no longer a true off season or shoulder season. With the rise in remote work, and higher rates and bigger crowds in summer, many travelers are now patiently waiting until the fall to take that beach trip to the Hamptons or Hilton Head. This is becoming a common travel hack. Similarly, the lines are blurring between business and leisure travel. Business travelers are extending their trips to enjoy the weekend, perhaps with family in tow. And leisure travelers are still checking their work email or taking business calls if they need to. It’s a sign of the times of our ‘Always On’ hybrid work/leisure culture. For example, some airlines have already done away with business class seating all together, just keeping 1st class and coach.”
Philip’s top three tips on preparing for the upcoming travel season:
- Check your passport expiration and if you are nearing 6 months from expiration, it’s time to start the renewal process. The State Dept is experiencing ongoing delays, typically taking 9-12 weeks to process a routine passport. (See tomorrow’s PR: “HotelPlanner Partners with RushMyPassport
- For overseas travel, Search & Book hotels and flights about 4-6 months out if possible to lock in a lower rate and ensure availability. For domestic trips, booking at least 1-2 months in advance will typically ensure a lower rate.
- Start experimenting with Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT or Bard to research a destination, compare the value of visiting one city over another, develop suggested itineraries, and get answers faster to questions about travel that matter to each unique traveler (i.e. distance to nearest hospital, is the hotel pet friendly, etc.) Eventually, we will probably all have our own ‘travel avatar’ that’s blockchain encrypted and AI-enabled that can be universally applied to any travel category or destination. Like a Digital ID focused on your travel persona that you can take with you most anywhere in the world. The industry is moving toward what we call ‘Frictionless Travel” and Generative AI tools will certainly play a role toward that vision.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.