August 25, 2022 | 4 min read
Abby Long is the Senior Managing Editor at PMG.
With Labor Day weekend just around the corner, travel and hospitality brands, from airlines to hotels and tourism companies, are gearing up for the last big travel weekend before the holiday season. Despite concerns over rising prices and staff shortages leading to canceled flights and long lines at the airport, travel demand and enthusiasm throughout the summer remained strong, surpassing 2021 numbers and, in some regions, 2019 levels as well. Positive earnings reports from American Airlines, Booking.com, Marriott, and Airbnb over the past few weeks showed that Americans are continuing to splurge on travel experiences, while financial outlooks for the latter half of the year signal business travel is also on the rebound.
Travel demand is booming, with earnings from airlines, hospitality, and accommodation companies showing that travelers are resilient, despite disruptions like thousands of canceled flights, and eager to travel.
A recent customer survey by Delta Airlines revealed business travel is expected to pick up more steam this fall as CDC guidelines soften, workers return to the office, and more regular business trips return.
With fall leisure and business travel demand looking up, marketers who leverage all available data to make the most strategic decisions can meet this moment and thoughtfully engage travelers on their journeys, wherever they’re going, in the months to come.
Hotel occupancy levels, airline and event ticket sales, and TSA checkpoint travel numbers all ticked up this summer as travelers jet set to national parks in remote places, city centers, and international destinations for concerts, vacations, and more. Even the destination wedding business is booming, with travel advisors reporting that 2022 demand for destination events is surpassing 2019 totals, with a record number of fall 2022 weddings on the books.
According to TravelPulse, warm-weather regions like Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica are some of the most popular destinations this year. The latest data from travel agency Trip.com reported a 678 percent year-over-year increase in searches for intercontinental flights during the first six months of 2022, with more American tourists flocking to the UK than other European destinations.
“Hotel occupancy levels, airline and event ticket sales, and TSA checkpoint travel numbers all ticked up this summer as travelers jet set to national parks in remote places, city centers, and international destinations for concerts, vacations, and more.”
Lost luggage, rising prices, canceled flights, and long lines made headlines all throughout the summer months and contributed to “some choppiness” in bookings across travel and hospitality companies, according to Bloomberg. Airbnb, for example, reported that the company saw more cancellations than expected last quarter, citing canceled flights as the most likely reason for so many changes in plans.
Across earnings reports from airlines, hospitality brands, and accommodation providers, executives assured analysts and investors that travel disruptions are lessening and travelers, by and large, remain resilient and eager to travel. Destination Analysts reports that over half of American travelers have taken at least one trip in the last month alone.
After a successful quarter, Hilton Hotels & Resorts raised its earnings forecasts through the remainder of the year and shared insight into booking trends, stating that recent inflation fears aren’t limiting vacation planning. Labor Day bookings are “looking great,” according to Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano in the company’s August earnings call.
Already, “forward bookings for Labor Day at Marriott properties are up compared to 2019 figures.” Similarly, Airbnb anticipates record revenue growth this fall after more than 103 million nights and experiences were booked with the company last quarter.
Interestingly, Airbnb’s fastest-growing segment remains long-term stays, with 25 percent growth year-over-year. The company expects that trend to continue despite many companies calling employees back to the office or unveiling hybrid working models.
“Labor Day bookings are “looking great,” according to Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano in the company’s August earnings call. ”
As corporate events and experiences return to in-person, a recent survey of Delta Airlines corporate customers indicates business travel will pick up this fall, fueled by corporate employees returning to the office after two years of working remotely. An Expedia study found online searches for fall travel plans have jumped 40 percent compared to 2021, with Tripadvisor reporting similar trends in the 2022 Fall Travel Index.
As Labor Day inches nearer, leading indicators across earnings reports, PMG data, and consumer sentiment surveys signal travel demand shows no signs of slowing down.
With nearly four out of ten Americans planning an autumn getaway—and just as many heading back to the office and returning to more consistent corporate travel this fall—travel marketers who leverage all available data to make the most strategic decisions can capitalize on this moment and thoughtfully engage travelers on their journeys, wherever they’re going, in the months to come.