What you need to know

Travel is in a much different state now than it was one year ago. In the summer of 2020, rising COVID-19 cases created fear and uncertainty about the safety of travel. Americans were not sure when they would feel comfortable venturing out again. Now, travelers have a better idea of when they will return to travel (if they haven’t already) and are bringing with them a list of long-term demands.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the travel industry.

  • How different traveler segments feel about returning to travel, and when.

  • The changes travel brands made during the pandemic that consumers want to persist.

  • How consumers will conceptualize travel post-pandemic.

Travel market definition

In analyzing and forecasting the travel market, Mintel has used the following criteria:

Total travel market: Includes traveler accommodations, domestic passenger air transportation services, international passenger air transportation services, scenic and sightseeing transportation services and travel arrangement and reservation services.

This Report also includes separate analysis and forecasts for the following travel segments: domestic airlines, domestic accommodations, and passenger count for cruise lines departing from US ports.

Consumer research definitions

In the consumer research for this Report, Mintel used the following definitions:

Local vacation: A leisure trip taken within a 4-hour drive of one’s home that includes an overnight stay in separate lodging.

Road trip: A leisure trip taken in a motor vehicle of at least two nights in length that involves a stop at least four hours away from home.

Travel planner: An internet user aged 18+ who has planned a leisure trip within the past 24 months. This trip does not have to have been completed (eg it was canceled due to the pandemic or is planned for the future).

This report is intended as a follow-up to the Mintel Report The Impact of COVID-19 on Travel – US, August 2020.

COVID-19: US Context

Data for this Report was in field between March 19 and April 2, 2021. The Report was written between May 5 and May 26, 2021 and thus reflects the pandemic environment of this period.

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. It was declared a global health pandemic and national emergency in early March 2020. Across the US, various stay-at-home orders were put in place in spring 2020, and non-essential businesses and school districts closed or shifted to remote operations. The remainder of 2020 saw rolling orders, as states and local governments relaxed and reinforced guidelines according to the spread of the virus in each region.

Vaccine distribution began in December 2020, and it is expected take anywhere from July to December 2021 for 70-90% of the population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Mintel anticipates business operations in the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021 as the vaccine is widely administered.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel bases its expectations for economic growth on projections provided by the CBO, the FOMC, the Conference Board and other public sources. Consensus estimates forecast US GDP to increase by 6.5% in 2021. Unemployment has been forecast to decline to as low as 4.1% by the end of 2021 with an average of 5.7% for the year.

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