With 2020 in the rearview mirror, many in the travel industry are clear-eyed about 2021 – ready to welcome a new year of challenges toward recovery but also hoping for more opportunities for success. Despite a slower-than-desired rollout of the vaccine in the U.S., the new administration has committed to 100 million vaccinations within the first 100 days to kick-start the economy. Better yet, industry experts have signaled the summer season will be a turning point toward recovery for several segments of the travel industry, though a world without any COVID-19 restrictions should not be expected until 2022.
The following is a summary of trends and industry shifts that MMGY NJF has compiled from recent media feedback, widespread coverage and webinars:
MEDIA SHIFTS AND COVERAGE OPPORTUNITIES:
- A New Travel Marriage – The big news is that Wyndham Destinations is acquiring Travel + Leisure for $100 million, the company announced January 6. The timeshare and travel club company will change its name to Travel + Leisure Co. sometime in the first quarter of this year. Meredith Corp. – the media brand’s parent company – will continue to operate the media side of the company under a 30-year licensing agreement. Travel + Leisure will maintain its current slate of brands and products – including the namesake magazine and “A-List” travel advisor network as noted by Skift. The new Travel + Leisure Co. will license out the brand name to Meredith Corp. to operate the media channels. The new Travel + Leisure Co. will end up with nearly 20 brands and 230 vacation club resorts around the world. Travel + Leisure’s travel clubs, with a combined 60,000 members, are also included in the acquisition.
- Heavy Lean into Pandemic Wanderlust for “Where to Go” Columns – Despite continued travel restrictions, there is no shortage of wanderlust editorial that continues to sweep the publishing world. The New York Times published their anticipated annual “52 Places to Go” column with a slight twist in perspective to be “52 Places to Love” to the mixed reaction of readers. Similarly, CNN released “21 Places to Go in 2021,” Travel + Leisure ranked the 50 best places, and USA Today tallied 100 places of wanderlust, just to name a few.
TRENDS IMPACTING THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY:
- Media Hedge on 2021 Travel Trends – Trend forecasts in every industry flood the media landscape each January, but none seem as critical – especially this year – as they do for the travel industry. Top publications like The New York Times and Bloomberg are hesitant to pinpoint an exact time frame to indicate full recovery, but the optimism is palpable to see a meaningful positive impact in 2021. Airlines, airports, cruise lines and hotels will all need to develop and adhere to new guidelines about testing, social distancing, cleaning and food service. Many have already made these adjustments, but further transparency will be key. Interestingly, Bloomberg advises travel brands to look to the wealthiest to set the tone for the future of nonessential travel because the solutions their money can buy may prove scalable for a wider audience.
- Introducing “Vaxi-cations” Travel Trend – The research team at MMGY Global has been surveying travelers throughout the pandemic, and their findings revealed interesting insights into Americans’ current travel habits and throughout the upcoming year. Better yet, CEO Clayton Reid provided predictions on what travel will look like in 2021, which was circulated widely across the media landscape. As a result of the survey, Travel Pulse and Fortune have echoed MMGY Global’s findings, citing that travelers should be prepared to show proof of their vaccinations for travel. It’s likely that international travelers or those traveling to attend certain business or special events will need to have their records available in order to fly or enter certain venues. This has already begun, as news broke recently that COVID-19 tests will likely be required for all international travel to the U.S. very soon.
- The Year for Space Travel? – While 2020 was a challenging year, it was a rather triumphant one for the international space industry – and there are six new missions Travel + Leisure recommends keeping your eye on in 2021. NASA has relied on private companies to build and operate spacecraft that could ferry cargo, and now people, to the International Space Station. It is trying a similar approach with Commercial Lunar Payload Services, a program that has contracted a number of private companies to build robotic lunar landers that will carry cargo from NASA and other customers to the moon’s surface. The New York Times reports that the first company, Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic, is scheduled to launch its Peregrine lander to the moon in June. Who are the customers you ask? Business Insider notes that flight commander Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut, will be joined by three private passengers, likely including Tom Cruise and the film director Doug Liman.
- Cautious Optimism Grows for Summer Cruising – The cruise industry has always had vocal supporters, and now more than ever those voices are speaking up. But according to new data from TravelPulse, a majority of Americans – about 53 percent – would wait to take a cruise until it was safe; 11 percent said they would probably sail again right away; and 23 percent said they would sail as soon as possible. Nevertheless, news continues to hit headlines of cruise brands making big decisions for the future, as seen by Crystal Cruises announcing Endeavor will make its debut in summer 2021.