Should you plan a trip for next year?

With much of the country opening up again people are wondering if travel is in their future, if not their immediate future. Azurite Consulting recently released a survey of 3,500 American’s about their travel plans. And while many folks are still planning post-COVID travel, they’re proceeding with extreme caution.

Some interesting stats from the survey, 36% of international flyers will not fly globally again until a vaccine is available, while 30% of domestic travelers will wait until a vaccine is available.

About a quarter of all Americans (26%) will wait for a vaccine before spending a night at a hotel- for either business or leisure. As for the cruise industry, that’s looking a bit uncertain right now with a full quarter of avid cruise goers swearing off cruises for good while 65% will wait at least until there’s a vaccine. Interestingly enough, 55% of those waiting will delay their next cruise until at least one year after the vaccine is out. And in case your travel plans always involve a sporting event, live theater or concert, you might be interested to know that 44% of those polled won’t attend a live game until a vaccine is issued, 63% of these people will wait at least another 3 months after the vaccine is out to attend. As for theater, opera or concerts, 41% won’t go until there’s a vaccine.

Then again, some people are simply shifting their travel plans and looking into things like private jets. Air Charter Service,  reported an increase of 75% year-on-year in inquiries during May and June 2020. With many commercial flights still struggling to come back to normal levels and routes, private air seems to be an option for those who can afford it, while the rest of us rely on virtual adventures or corporate retreats.

With people starting to feel antsy about being unable to travel, we have to realize that it isn’t impossible to make long-term plans, it might just be a bit more complicated. “I am confident that people are already planning trips for next year,” shared Bahar Schmidt founder of Eluxit a company that creates more affordable travel packages. Schmidt said, “The only issue is that our Booking System, also known as “G.D.S.” (Global Distribution System) which is used by all travel agencies, airlines and hotels only goes as far as 10 months ahead. So, if people want to book a trip for next year, they can only book as far as May 2021.” Which means that even if you’re California dreaming right now, you might have to wait a while to book that next trip.

“Anything beyond that timing,” explained Schmidt, “the G.D.S. would not be able to book. In addition, another challenge is that Airlines still have no full annual operating schedule, as there are still so many uncertainties and booking any trip at this point would be challenging, since everything is constantly changing.”

And while people are talking a lot about their trips, Schmidt thinks a lot of it is wishful thinking. “My travel agency in Santa Monica had many requests in the past few weeks and there was a little momentum, happiness and excitement around it for sure, but out of all the requests we got for mainly RV trips and road trips, only one actually booked.”

There’s a bright side. Like the predictions made by the survey by Azurite Consulting, Schmidt also thinks travel will be on the rise again once a vaccine is easily available. “People will start traveling once we have a vaccine and see the cases declining, and once the borders open again,” Schmidt said. More than that, “It is my prediction that we will have our highest travel booking by next year if the Coronavirus is under control.”

And you’ll probably be traveling better when you do travel again. “People saved so much money this year by not traveling during spring break, summer travel season, and possibly even the upcoming winter holidays,” Schmidt said. “By next year, travelers will not only be ready, but I think for the most part, they may have more funds available to spend on travel.” She also predicts that Europe will be the top destination next year “for Americans wanting to travel outside of the United States, especially Italy and France.” And unlike the above poll, Schmidt thinks cruises will be booked up as well and explained why. “I think Cruises are already being booked for next year, a lot of travelers have FCCs ( Future Cruise Credit) that will expire by Dec. 2021 combined with the many promotions they have running now, we can expect lots of travelers on cruises.

And in case like me you’ve been wondering about business travel, don’t expect to head to a conference anytime soon. “I think once the Coronavirus is under control business travel will come back,” Schmidt explained, though “in smaller blocks.” He thinks conferences will most likely pick up maybe in a year or two. Ready to book your own travel for the not so distant future? Exercise caution. Schmidt said “Some airlines may file for bankruptcy; some hotels may shut down. Tour operators can also go out of business,” he said. And as far too many people have discovered, refunds are often hard to
come by. So, while it’s okay to dream about your next trip and even plan for it, Schmidt said to “hold off on booking anything until we see some control over the coronavirus.”