Wednesday, February 21, 2024

With Memorial Day 2023 behind us, the unofficial start of summer is here, a time when more Americans firm up their travel plans for the warmer months ahead. Both business travel and leisure travel are significant contributors to the US economy, and with Memorial Day travel surpassing pre-pandemic for the first time, it’s safe to say that inflation isn’t stopping determined vacationers.

US Travel Association

The US Travel Association (USTA) recently released two studies—its Ipsos Consumer Survey and its Business Travel Tracker in conjunction with JD Power and Tourism Economics—to drill down on what travelers are thinking about the upcoming year.

Some of the highlights from the studies:

  • The outlook for US summer travel is strong, with more than half of all Americans (53 percent) saying they have travel planned in the next six months.
  • For pain points, more than a third (35 percent) say they have had a flight delayed or canceled, and two-thirds of travelers say they are unsatisfied with their air travel experience. Top concerns cited were crowing and congestion (43 percent) and flight delays/cancelations (40 percent).
  • Over half of Americans (52 percent) say they would travel more for leisure in the next six months if the travel experience was not as much of a hassle, significantly more than Q1 (29 percent).
  • Most air travelers (55 percent) want Congress to prioritize improvements to the air travel experience.
  • More than eight in 10 business travelers have plans to travel in the next six months as respondents highlight growing benefits from face-to-face meetings despite lingering cost constraints and company travel policies.
  • While more than eight in 10 executives agree that business travel is essential to company operations, seven in 10 decision makers expect business travel spending in the next six months to be less than last year for all types.  In line with cost control measures, the effectiveness of each business trip is increasingly scrutinized.
  • More executives in Q4 consider business travel essential (81 percent) compared to earlier quarters.

The changing travel landscape and how the US government can assist with bolstering travel continue to be topics of interest at the recent IPW, USTA’s annual international marketplace and conference, held May 20-24 in San Antonio, Texas. Nearly 5,000 attendees from 60 countries attended the event.

Among the top suggestions for eliminating barriers to US travel included:

  • Lowering visitor visa interview wait times, which average more than 500 days in the top 10 visa-requiring markets worldwide (excluding China, which has yet to fully resume outbound flights) for first-time applicants, especially Brazil, India, and Mexico. USTA has been pushing this issue consistently.
  • Addressing entry delays at US Customs, many of which exceed an hour.
  • Improving the air travel experience through a 10-year strategic vision.
  • Increasing competitiveness in the global travel market.

The next IPW is scheduled for May 3-7, 2024, in Los Angeles.

Visit ustravel.org for more information.