America Is Open for Business
It’s been 602 days. Who’s counting? Everybody.
In Las Vegas, Elvis tribute artist Travis Allen is back on the job. Bliss Wedding Chapel already has new bookings from 23 couples traveling from France, Germany, Brazil and the U.K. Two weeks ago, owner Brandon Reed says there were zero weddings on the books.
In New York City in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, Don Rossi’s street cart is open for business. Before the pandemic, he sold up to 500 hot dogs per day, which fell as low as 10 hot dogs during the height of the pandemic. The self-proclaimed Hot Dog King welcomes back the international visitors that he calls his “lifeblood.” (Source: USA Today)
Fully vaccinated international visitors from 33 countries are required to show official proof and a recent negative viral test. The airlines are responsible for verification.
The top-booked destinations for overseas travelers in November are New York, Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles and San Francisco, in that order, per Travelport data, with Brits emerging as the “most eager to get back to U.S. cities.”
It’s a welcome sign of recovery for the U.S. travel industry, which has seen flight bookings to and within the country rise to 70% of pre-pandemic levels, Bloomberg reports.
Excitement for Nov. 8 has been building overseas, with airlines reporting sold-out flights on Monday.
In London, the moment saw rivalry put aside as two flights from Heathrow simultaneously took off from parallel runways at 8:30 a.m. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic A350s orchestrated a first-ever double historic departure for JFK International Airport.
Just in time for the holidays. Congestion is expected as the U.S. opens back up. “It’s going to be a bit sloppy first,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said. “There will be lines, unfortunately.”
Increased wait time is also expected at border crossings. Closer to home, Mexican and Canadian visitors will be able to drive to the U.S. for non-essential purposes for the first time in 20 months, and some cars were lining up at the northern border over the weekend.
Visit Rochester‘s Rachel Laber Pulvino spoke on-air with Global News Toronto about “Bordering On,” a new campaign targeted at Canadians from New York State’s third-largest city, just 90 minutes’ drive from Canada and three hours from Toronto.
In Minnesota, Gov. Walz proclaimed Nov. 8, 2021 as “Canadian Travelers Day.” To mark the re-opening of international land borders to vaccinated travelers, a press conference highlighted the importance of Canada to Minnesota’s economy, along with travel marketing efforts to welcome back the state’s neighbors to the north.
Good news came from the busy San Ysidro Port of Entry. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, “Border reopens smoothly to cheers, hugs and tearful reunions.” Before the reopening, “On Sunday night, hundreds of cars formed lines stretching back miles into Tijuana waiting for the clock to strike midnight, as tourists planned to cross into San Diego during the first hour of eased restrictions. Many said they used that strategy to try to avoid the peak rush-hour traffic later Monday morning.” However, “the milestone moment came with shorter lines and less traffic than anticipated, leaving international land travelers pleasantly surprised.
Latest Recovery News From Industry Movers & Shakers
Tripadvisor: CEO Steve Kaufer will leave his position in 2022, it was announced this week. “Steve Kaufer had a good run,” writes Executive Editor Dennis Schaal at Skift, “transforming a company with a small office over a pizza shop in Massachusetts 20 years ago into a global, household name brand. The issue for Tripadvisor isn’t who will replace Kaufer, but what innovations will it take to revive the company.”
YouGov: A new survey reveals that about one in five global consumers believes that celebrity and influencer endorsements are effective in travel advertising (18%). In a list of 11 retail categories asked about in 17 global markets, travel came in sixth. Indians and Chinese are among those most impressed; Brits, French, Italians, Swedes and Americans among those least. Download the report here.
Hopper: Since the re-opening of U.S. borders was announced in late September, travel app Hopper has seen international flight searches to the U.S. spike 338% for trips after 8 November.
ADARA: Thanksgiving Travel Trends Report: The upcoming holiday is demonstrating the best performance yet. Hotel bookings are within 6% of 2019’s level. Trip length patterns are reverting to norm while some traveler segments are splurging like never before.
Download the US Hotel Bookings Report to find out key traveler trends for the upcoming holiday season based on data from Aug. 15 to Oct. 7 comparing the booking and searching pace to the same period in both 2020 and 2021.
STR and Tourism Economics upgraded the hotel industry forecast for 2022 during this week’s NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. The experts are now forecasting U.S. hotel demand to reach “near full recovery” in 2022. Previously, they had forecast that demand would not fully recover until 2023.
Marriott International: The world’s largest hotel company reported improvement in the third quarter, as did CEOs from other large hotel chains. Group room revenues for the quarter were down 46% versus the same period in 2019. That’s a significant improvement over the second quarter 2021, which saw a decline of 76% versus the same period in 2019. Average daily rates for groups are up.
Hyatt: The company’s largest corporate accounts have grown by 50% since June and cancellations caused by delta variant in late summer leveled off and decreased in October.
Hilton: Leisure travel remained strong and business travel continued to pick up during the third quarter. Hilton experienced significant improvement in its results as compared to the same periods in 2020, due to an upward trend in travel and tourism. Certain hotels suspended operations at various times throughout 2020, but the majority of those hotels have reopened.
Airbnb: Following a busy summer, Airbnb’s revenue for the period ending Sept. 30 beat forecasts at $2.2 billion, up 67% from the same period in 2020 and surpassing 2019 third quarter revenue by 36%.
CEO Brian Chesky commented during the earnings call that, “Something bigger than a travel rebound is happening. The world is undergoing a revolution of how we live and work. For the first time ever, people can travel any time, anywhere, for any length, and live on Airbnb. This trend towards more flexibility will only accelerate.”
Pointing to work policies at some of the world’s largest companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Procter & Gamble, and Amazon, Chesky said remote flexibility policies are evidence that this trend is here to stay.
On the international travel front, Airbnb has seen U.S. searches increase by 50% and bookings by foreign guests go up 44%. The most popular destinations are Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, and the South Florida Atlantic Coast for guests primarily traveling from London, Paris, Santiago, Toronto, and Vancouver.
AHLA: Considering the high price of gas, there’s a damper on road trips for Thanksgiving, according to a new national survey conducted by Morning Consult for the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Expedia Group Media Solutions: The Q3 Travel Recovery Trend Report indicates that the industry is maintaining its momentum, search volumes are holding steady, and search windows are shortening. Holiday bookings are up by double digits and business travel is on the rise.
On a regional level, New York City leads the list for top 10 destinations by bookings from both global and North American-based markets. Starred cities indicate those new to the list this quarter.
Business travel demand in Q3 was up more than 40% quarter-over-quarter and up more than 110% compared to Q3 2020. Chicago and New York were among the top four booked destinations for business travelers globally .