As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to increase, winter weather breaks in most areas of the country, and restrictions loosen on retail capacities and personal gatherings, Americans have one thing on their mind: it’s time to travel.
And they’re gearing up to hit the road.
TSA reports having scanned more than one million travelers through the airport gates consistently since the beginning of March, with numbers increasingly hovering around the 1.5-million travelers mark, daily. This presents a stark contrast to travel at this time last year.
Family travelers are reporting summer house rentals on the beach are hard to come by before September. And in a recent industry briefing, we also heard that leisure cruise sales for 2022 are now above 2019 levels.
And as personal travel goes, so goes group and corporate travel.
We recently cited a travel study by APCO, showing that 81% of professionals who attend in-person meetings and conferences before the pandemic miss doing so. This study also shows that people are just as likely, if not more likely, to attend in-person meetings when the pandemic is over.
We’re consistently seeing destinations reopen, smartly, with educated restrictions. And as the corporate travel industry awakens, planners can expect to see exciting changes in the coming months. But they can also expect to hit a few snags in availability along the way.
Steady recovery is in sight, which means pent-up travel demand in nearly every notable destination. Hotel inventory is already getting scarce, demand is tightening, and rates are on the rise. And while that’s great for the travel industry, and the roughly 319 million people working in it worldwide, this dynamic is already creating challenges for your next event.
While 2020’s travel word of the year was “pivot”, this year’s is “compression”. All those incentive programs from 2020 and early 2021 that were postponed have been rebooked in late 2021 and 2022. Most clients are getting back to business booking their regular 2022 programs at the same time, leading to high demand over the best dates at the most coveted properties.
We can help. Next Level is actively booking travel for full group programs for Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and beyond for many of our clients. And we can deliver a host of individual travel and experiential reward options, as well.
Need help planning and booking your next travel program? Reach out to us – it’s time to re-start the conversation.
As Vice President of Travel & Engagement at Next Level Performance, Susan serves on the board of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and chairs the IRF Research Committee. She has also served on the board of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and is a past president of the Recognition Council, and a past member of the Performance Improvement Council and the Incentive and Engagement Solution Providers (IESP). She is interested in the strategies and benefits of employee engagement, incentive, and recognition programs. An avid traveler, she is also passionate about the art and science of incentive travel.