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Travel Demand Remains Robust, Nearing Pre-Pandemic Levels

3 MINUTE READ | December 8, 2022

Travel Demand Remains Robust, Nearing Pre-Pandemic Levels

Travel Demand Remains Robust, Nearing Pre-Pandemic Levels

More than ten million passengers passed through TSA checkpoints around the country during Thanksgiving weekend this year in a near-return to pre-pandemic levels, serving as the latest sign that travel demand remains strong heading into the final weeks of the year. 

  • AAA estimated that nearly 55 million people traveled for Thanksgiving this year, a slight year-over-year increase and nearly 98 percent to pre-pandemic volumes. 

  • More travel brands than ever before participated in this year’s Travel Deal Tuesday on the day after Cyber Monday, with hundreds of deals and steep discounts offered on hotels, cruises, flights, and more. 

AAA reported that 2022 would be the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel year since 2000, as millions of families reunited for the first time since the pandemic began. Travel booking website Kayak noted similar trends, with CFO Peer Bueller sharing in The Washington Post that Thanksgiving was expected to be the biggest air travel period since the end of 2019. AAA predicted that roughly 55 million people would travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, a 1.5 percent increase over the previous year and 98 percent to pre-pandemic volumes. The vast majority of Thanksgiving travelers traveled by car, though air travel demand was up nearly eight percent year-over-year and 99 percent to 2019. On the Airline Weekly podcast, American Airlines President and CEO Nicholas Calio called it the first “normal Thanksgiving” that Americans have enjoyed in two to three years, with holiday travel behavior following pre-pandemic trends. 

According to advertising technology partner Koddi, Atlanta, New York, and Orlando were some of the top destinations this Thanksgiving. Travelers primarily booked short stays, with nearly 50 percent of all searches for hotel bookings targeting single-night stays and 25.7 percent with two-night stay lengths, while roughly 25 percent represented lengths of stay of three days or more. 

Travel Deal Tuesday continues to grow, with all signs pointing to 2022 being the best year for the shopping event since Hopper launched it in 2017. In 2021, Travel Deal Tuesday saw over 50 percent more deals than Black Friday and 30 percent more deals than Cyber Monday, according to Hopper. There were an average of 68 new deals offered per second last year, with standout offers ranging from $1200-$500 off international flights. This year, more than 75 brands participated in the sales event via exclusive partnerships with Hopper—a record high—and dozens more, including, Groupon, Hilton, Marriott, and JetBlue, to name a few, offering deals and extended savings via their own booking engines. 

Hotel booking demand for the holiday season has been steadily increasing since this summer, according to Koddi, with demand surging 950 percent week-over-week halfway through September for Christmas and New Year’s Day check-in dates. Since the start of November, demand has continued to climb, up 26 percent week-over-week and increasing. A strong Q3 earnings season combined with healthy 2023 forecasts signal that the travel industry remains largely unaffected by concerns of an economic slowdown, with the latest industry research by suggesting that travelers are moving from a mindset of “uncertainty to bold adaptability” heading into the new year. 

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For more insight into the state of holiday travelers, check out PMG’s Trendspotter research.

Posted by: Abby Long

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