Expensive Car Rentals and More Travel Spending Trends for 2021

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At the end of 2020, the future of travel was unclear, with expectations of a rebound revolving around whether or not we would have an effective vaccine in the New Year. Fortunately, the vaccine was widely deployed in the United States soon after, and Americans are back in business – and in fun.

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While the travel industry as a whole has yet to return to what it was before COVID-19, 2021 has proven that America’s relationship with travel is resilient and that even a global pandemic cannot hamper our love from getting out of dodging.

Here’s a look at how various sectors have performed over the past year and what we might expect in 2022.

Airline ticket sales have skyrocketed

“Airline ticket sales have increased in earnest throughout 2021,” said Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at Cheap flights from Scott. Airline revenues, which were down 64% from pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2020, are expected to decline by around 16% in early 2022 according to Airlines for America, highlighting how ticket sales have improved. Likewise, the daily TSA traveler throughput at the end of 2021 was more than double what it was in 2020, and just a hair lower than the 2019 numbers. “

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Leisure and business picked up

“Leisure travel has increased significantly from 2020, and we have also started to see a return of business travel, as vaccines have started to be administered around the world,” said Alex Miller, Founder and CEO of UpgradedPoints.com. “We saw significant demand for travel overall, but we also found that international travel was lagging beyond expectations, even with the reopening of borders. People were not as comfortable going abroad, as evidenced by airlines which are suspending many routes until 2022. “

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Private jet space has become much more crowded

The majority of the world may be scratching at the change to pay for their vacation flights – but the one percent have no problem flying high.

“As many sectors of the travel industry continued to struggle, the rebound in private jet travel in the United States has broken records on a weekly and monthly basis,” said Doug Gollan, Founder and Editor of Private jet card comparisons. “A lot of this is driven by new private travelers who could still afford it, but didn’t see the value before. They were initially motivated by covid avoidance (fewer touchpoints – less than 20 compared to over 700 with airlines) and now avoid crowded airports and in-flight scrums, masking requirements and also because that airline service is still below pre-Covid levels.

Food spending at airports held steady, but had their complications

“In our 2021 JD Power survey of North American airports, we found that the percentage of people purchasing food or drink remained at 50%, ”said Mike Taylor, head of travel intelligence at JD Power. “In other words, only half of airport passengers buy food or drink at terminals. Of course, there were far fewer passengers than a “normal” year. Average reported spending on food, drink and retail at airports increased from $ 32 per person in 2020 to $ 34 in 2021; However, passengers waited longer and struggled to find open outlets where they could spend money.

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Travel insurance was a must

“In 2021, we have seen that people have become more aware of the need for travel insurance due to the ever-changing travel landscape brought on by the pandemic,” said Greg Jung, senior vice president of sales and marketing. marketing at Seven corners, a global travel insurance company. “Travelers continued to place greater importance on safety, cleanliness and flexibility when booking travel, as opposed to luxury or comfort, also contributing to increased consumer awareness of travel insurance. . In fact, the number of travelers purchasing travel insurance for their trips increased by 50% in 2020 and continued into 2021. ”

The seasonal rental market is booming

“Vacation rentals haven’t followed the same pattern as other parts of the travel industry in 2021,” said Marcus Rader of Hostaway, a provider of vacation rental management software. “Bookings were at an all-time high and our business, which helps vacation rental owners and business professionals manage their bookings with platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, grew 5-10% month over month.

“We have seen the average group size go from 2.1 travelers to 2.8 travelers per booking for vacation rentals,” Rader continued. “Travel seasonality has also changed as people stay in places whose popularity has traditionally been dictated by weather all year round.”

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Boat rental caused a sensation

“In 2021 at GetMyBoat, we saw a massive increase (compared to the already record 2020) in the demand for boat rentals and private experiences on the water enjoyed by small groups of families and friends,” said said Val Streif, Marketing Director of GetMyBoat. “We’re already seeing bookings for popular weekends (July 4th seems so far away, but in the boat rental world it’s already full), and planning ahead is becoming essential.”


Resort travel was all the rage

“Sandals had their highest bookings in 2021, with trends for summer, fall and winter above historical averages,” said a spokesperson for Resorts sandals told GOBankingRates. “Sandals Resorts operated at over 90% of capacity this summer, and September + October, which are typically a bit slower than peak summer and winter months, are up 151% from 2019 . “

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Train travel was more popular than in pre-pandemic times

“Domestic train travel in 2021 passed 2019 as customers couldn’t cruise or travel overseas, so we experienced tremendous growth,” said Frank Marini, CEO of Amtrak Vacations and Railbookers. “Another interesting fact is that 70% of our customers were new to rail travel. For 2022, with regard to domestic train travel, we are ahead of the same time in 2019 for 2020 by + 89% because many customers have postponed their holidays from 2020 or 2021 to 2022. And of that, + 57% are new cases in progress in 2022.

International rail travel is also experiencing a moment, currently up + 115% compared to the same period in 2019 for 2020 and of which + 86% are new customers, said Marini.

Car rentals were out of control – and 2022 looks the same

Anyone who tried to rent a car This past year knows that once easy travel has become more laborious – and expensive – than in the pre-pandemic times. 2022 promises to be just as chaotic for roadsters.

“When it comes to rental cars, 2022 is shaping up to be a repeat of 2021 from a high rate perspective,” said Michael Meyer, president of Highway Tariff, a provider of real-time car rental rate management intelligence and competitive rental pricing systems. “For example, travelers should expect that spring break car rentals will be as difficult to find as in 2021 in terms of price and availability due to the lack of fleet in the United States. United States. However, we would expect that European travelers will still be able to visit the United States, despite Omicron – so there will be increased demand. Interestingly, European travelers tend to book their cars earlier than domestic travelers. , which makes the competition tougher from the start. ”

The future is cloudy but bright

While we have yet to see how dangerous the Omicron variant can be, the consensus in the travel industry is that 2022 will pick up where 2021 left off. There will be excitement and growth, but not without some serious pitfalls.

“Given what we’ve seen throughout 2021, it’s fair to expect a continued and gradual reopening of the world as 2022 approaches, with inevitable setbacks,” Orlando said. “The airline industry has gained valuable experience, both in the face of both sudden and unexpected increases in interest in travel and setbacks, such as the emergence of the Delta variant, which makes a lot of ‘between us convinced that, as we move hesitantly towards a new kind of normalcy, we will begin to see less major disruption to travel.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor and author based in Los Angeles, Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, The Atlantic, Vice and The New Yorker. She is a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, “Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray,” received rave reviews from Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and has been published in the US, UK, France and Russia – well let no one know what happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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