Pent-up demand and social media will shape post-COVID leisure travel trends.
As COVID-19 vaccinations expand and emergency restrictions are eased, Americans are seeing hopeful signs that their lives may be returning to normal. Many are already planning to make up for lost time by splurging on leisure travel as soon it’s safe—a sort of “revenge travel” to celebrate the end of the pandemic, complete with selfies taken in exotic locales.
We recently conducted a survey of our 360 Travel Community, including an additional sample of general population US adults 25+, to learn how Americans are approaching post-pandemic travel. The results were both encouraging and intriguing—80% of those surveyed say they’re ready to travel, and 70% are planning to book a leisure vacation in the next six months.
It’s no surprise that there is pent-up demand for leisure travel, but the big news is that consumers appear ready to splurge on more luxurious experiences to help release their pandemic stress. As one survey participant said: “I think we could all use to relax and spoil ourselves after what we’ve been through.”
We’re calling this mindset “revenge travel.” Consumers are anxious to declare victory over the pandemic, and they’re willing to spend more to mark the occasion. It’s an attitude that’s likely to shape travel habits over the coming months as consumer comfort with leisure travel returns.
Our survey showed that 40% of consumers plan to spend more on their next vacation than they have in the past, with an average increased spend of 45%. Younger travelers (18-34) plan greater increased spending (50%) than those over 35, but even older travelers say they’ll spend an average of 43% more.
Most respondents say they’re planning a luxury hotel getaway centered on relaxation and indulgence, including beach activities, restaurant dining, and spa experiences—all with their phones at the ready to capture the moment. “I want a vacation that is Instagram-worthy,” one respondent told us.
Leisure travel and social media posts always go hand-in-hand, but we found that online influencers are also shaping consumers’ desire to travel, as well as their choices and plans. Of the survey respondents who plan to splurge on a post-pandemic vacation, 80% say social media is influencing their travel plans.
A similar percentage of respondents said that it’s very or extremely important to them to document their experience on social media, led by those 18-34, who say they’ll post about their vacation on an average of 3 different social media channels.
Overall, it appears that consumers are eager to indulge in luxury travel experiences as soon as it’s safe, and they want to share the excitement and relief of their “revenge” against COVID with their friends and family. Of course, there is still a great deal of uncertainty, and much will depend on how the pandemic plays out, but it looks like there may be light at the end of the COVID tunnel for the travel industry.
To learn more about how 360 Market Reach can help your business stay ahead of trends and attitudes shaping the travel industry, schedule a consultation with our Travel Research Expert today.