Travel Leaders Network Survey: Bookings Are on the Rise for 2020 and Beyond

In some heartening news, 50 percent of frequent travelers participating in a Travel Leaders Network survey said they were beginning to make definitive vacation plans for 2020, with 43 percent looking toward 2021 and 8 percent to 2022.

The survey, which polled nearly 2,700 respondents in mid to late May, found that national parks were the No. 1 vacation choice among respondents on the domestic front, with Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico in high demand on the international front.

“Traveling somewhere this year is on the agenda for many travel enthusiasts,” said Travel Leaders Network President Roger Block. “These findings align with reports from our travel advisors who are seeing calls and bookings on the rise”

Eighteen percent of respondents said they were planning to take their next vacation this summer, 24 percent in the fall and 8 percent said they expected to travel during the holiday season.

On the transportation front, the majority of respondents said they plan to fly to their next vacation destination, while 25 percent plan to drive and 18 percent plan to cruise.

In addition to national parks, such U.S. destinations as Florida, Hawaii, Alaska and “anywhere uncrowded” scored high with respondents, while populated cities like New York and Las Vegas scored lower.

In terms of international travel, 38 percent of travelers said they were interested in travel to Europe, 34 percent to the Caribbean and 15 percent to Mexico.

“Despite enthusiastic plans to travel, respondents did acknowledge concerns they had about increased risk of transmission while traveling, as well as being quarantined,” Block said.

Although some respondents were skittish about health and safety issues, they nonetheless expressed interest in receiving travel-planning information. Almost 60 percent said they would like to receive promotional offers and details about supplier Peace of Mind policies, which outline cancellation and refund requirements vacations booked via hotel, airline, cruise ship or tour operator. Fifty-seven percent were interested in receiving tips on health and safety.

The survey also found that many “financial incentives and flexible refund policies” were motivating respondents’ future plans.

In other developments, Travel Leaders agents said that their more intrepid clients are less concerned about coronavirus-related issues are eager to travel again than less-seasoned customers.

A significant concern among clients was the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19, which could impact their summer or fall vacation plans, travel advisors said, adding that other customers have expressed concern about their employers putting them on two-week quarantines when they return home.

Anecdotes from Travel Leaders Network advisors, however, illustrate the resilience of the traveling public.

“I have new clients from Houston who found me through an Internet search in April and they are leaving on June 6 for their 15th wedding anniversary trip to Antigua,” said Pam McIntyre of Travel Leaders in Maple Grove, Minn. “They originally wanted to go to Jamaica, but the resort there is not opening until later in the month and the husband said they couldn’t change the date because his in-laws are coming in to watch the kids. He has no concerns about traveling and in fact, says he is looking forward to there being fewer guests at the resort than there would have been if we were not dealing with a pandemic.

Angela Hendricks of Bentley Hedges Travel in Oklahoma City booked four women traveling together on a vacation to Cancun in the first week of July 2002. “They were my first phone call since the pandemic started that wasn’t a cancellation,” she said. “I’ve had several bookings since then. I have a family with two teenage sons, ages 15 and 13, who are going to Alaska for 10 days. They will visit Anchorage, Talkeetna, Girdwood and Soldotna for fishing and wildlife excursions.

Jamie Buss of Woodbury, Minn.-based Market Square Travel had a cancellation for a March wedding in Riviera Maya, Mexico, which has been rebooked for November. “About 25 guests ranging in age from 2 to 70 are scheduled to attend—this is about 80 percent of the original attendees. Some of the others have taken a wait-and-see approach,” Buss said.

If ever there were a time to use an agent, that time is now, noted Block. “Our travel advisors have up-to-the-minute information and they are there to help you if plans change,” he said.

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