KANSAS CITY—MMGY Travel Intelligence, MMGY Global’s research and insights division, has released the findings from the 2021 “Summer Edition” of its Portrait of American Travelers survey, conducted in April. The report explains in detail how U.S. travelers’ interests in leisure travel have rapidly increased as vaccinations have become widely available and states peel back related COVID-19 restrictions. In fact, the MMGY Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI) rose to an all-time high of 129, an increase of 10 points compared to last quarter.
The intent to take a vacation over the next six months has increased significantly, with 72 percent of U.S. adults planning to do so – up from 62 percent recorded during the last Portrait of American Travelers survey conducted in February 2021. This jump in travel intent was observed across all generations except for Gen Z, who had already shown a high level of intent in the last survey.
The biggest rise in intent to travel in the next six months is among Boomers, increasing from 54 percent to 70 percent. Boomers were among the first U.S. citizens to have access to vaccines and they have savings to pay for trips. Close to half (44 percent) of all active leisure travelers surveyed have already received a COVID-19 vaccine, with the highest vaccination rate among Boomers (74 percent), and Gen Xers following distantly at 37 percent.
With grandparents vaccinated, and parents and children over 12 now following, the survey shows more than 2 in 5 travelers intend to take a multigenerational vacation (i.e., a vacation that includes more than two generations of travelers) during the next 12 months (43 percent).
Finding Travel Deals
With the unprecedented slowdown in travel this past year, consumers have been expecting to find aggressive promotional offers and discounts. However, the surge in leisure travel demand has led to strong weekend demand and a lack of available inventory. This has created a situation in certain markets that MMGY Travel Intelligence is calling “reverse compression,” where weekend leisure demand is forcing travelers to consider weekday travel as an alternative.
Domestic road trips will continue to dominate the travel scene in 2021, with June and July being the favored months for travel. Fifty-seven percent of travelers indicated they took a road trip in the past 12 months, while 76 percent intend to take one in the next 12 months. The incidence of taking a road trip is highest among Millennials (79 percent), Gen Xers (79 percent), and those with children (82 percent), with the vast majority (84 percent) of road trippers indicating they will drive their own vehicle.
The reasons for taking road trips vary across generations. Gen Zs and Millennials are motivated by the lower vacation costs, while Gen Xers like the ability to be spontaneous. Boomers appreciate the flexibility to pack everything needed in their cars.
While many domestic travel destinations are opening back up, the likelihood and interest in traveling internationally are down despite an increase in perceived safety. This may be related to the current uncertainties of traveling internationally. However, as international destinations begin to open to foreign tourists and restrictions are lessened, there is an expectation that international travel intentions will start to see a resurgence in the coming months.