Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023
Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Pent-Up Demand Drives Travel Bookings
According to Expedia's 2023 Travel Trends Report, searches for international travel on their site increased 25% in 2022 compared to 2021. Beach destinations like Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Cabo San Lucas ranked among the top-searched locales. Tourist hotspots like Paris, Rome and London also saw renewed interest.
"People have missed the ability to freely travel and are making up for lost time," said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands. "From city escapes to dream vacations, we're seeing strong demand across all regions, seasons and accommodation types."
A recent American Express Travel survey found 68% of travelers plan to spend the same or more on vacations in 2023 versus 2022. Of these respondents, 37% said exploring new places was their top motivation for travel this year.
Airlines are responding to this demand by expanding fleets and adding new routes. United plans to take delivery of 100 new narrow-body aircraft in 2023 and launch seven new international routes. American Airlines will receive 63 new jets and open new nonstop service to 15 destinations.
The cruise industry is also poised for growth after two years of starts and stops. According to Cruise Lines International Association, cruise travel is projected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. To meet demand, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises will launch a dozen new ships this year.
With occupancy rates on the rise, hotels and resorts are sweetening deals to attract leisure and business travelers. Hilton is offering up to 20% off stays, extra bonus points and complimentary breakfast. Wyndham Rewards members can save up to 50% on room rates.
What else is in this post?
- Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Pent-Up Demand Drives Travel Bookings
- Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Airlines Expand Fleets to Meet Surge
- Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Hotels Offer Deals and Upgrades to Lure Guests
- Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Cruise Lines Set Sail with New Health Protocols
- Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Destinations Roll Out Tourism Campaigns
- Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - OTAs Report Increase in Searches and Bookings
- Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Business Travel Expected to Rebound
Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Airlines Expand Fleets to Meet Surge
To keep up with the surge in travel demand, airlines are rapidly expanding their fleets with new aircraft deliveries. American Airlines will add 63 new narrow-body jets to their fleet in 2023, including Airbus A321neos and Boeing 737 MAXs. These next-generation planes offer better fuel efficiency, lower operating costs, and increased passenger capacity compared to older models.
The airline plans to use these new jets to open service on 15 new routes, including a recently announced daily flight between Seattle and Bengaluru, India. American also intends to use the influx of aircraft to increase frequencies on high-demand domestic and short-haul international routes this summer.
United Airlines has even more ambitious growth plans, with expectations to receive 100 new narrow-body aircraft in 2023. The airline has firm orders for 200 Boeing 737 MAX jets to be delivered over the next several years. These new planes will replace United’s aging fleet of Boeing 757-200s while providing about 20 more seats per aircraft.
United plans to use the added capacity to launch seven new international routes in 2023, pending governmental approval. This includes the airline’s first-ever nonstop flights between Washington, D.C. and Cape Town, South Africa. United also wants to boost service between the U.S. West Coast and popular destinations in Australia and New Zealand.
While the economics of purchasing $100+ million aircraft may seem daunting, airlines believe the long-term efficiencies will pay off. As Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, explained on an investor call:
“Replacing those aircraft with MAX aircraft...it’s going to be a couple percentage points improvement in CASM [cost per available seat mile] over the next several years. That translates into hundreds of millions of dollars of higher pre-tax income.”
In other words, the fuel and maintenance savings from operating new jets instead of gas-guzzling old ones will more than offset the upfront costs over time. This equation allows airlines to profitably expand service amidst strong travel demand.
Of course, absorbing dozens of new aircraft every year does not come without logistical challenges. Airlines must hire and train additional pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, and other operational personnel. This exacerbates existing staffing challenges, as airlines continue struggling to ramp up hiring post-pandemic.
There is also the task of taking delivery of all these planes from manufacturers. Boeing and Airbus face their own labor and supply chain constraints which could delay deliveries beyond target dates. This would slow expansion plans and force adjustments to schedules.
Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Hotels Offer Deals and Upgrades to Lure Guests
With occupancy rates rebounding, hotels and resorts are rolling out tempting offers to attract leisure and business travelers in 2023. Savvy guests can take advantage of discounted rates, room upgrades, extra amenities, and reward bonuses if they know where to look.
Hilton aims to fill beds this year through their 'Hit the Road' sale, which offers up to 20% off the best available rate for weekend stays. Members of the Hilton Honors rewards program also have access to an exclusive offer for double bonus points on all stays. Marriott Bonvoy is similarly incentivizing loyal guests, with special member rates up to 25% off and 4,000 bonus points for two-night bookings.
These deals aren't just limited to the major chains either. Boutique hotels and independent resorts are also getting in on the action by providing value-adds like complimentary breakfast, resort credits, spa discounts and more. For example, guests at all AKA luxury serviced residences receive a $100 hotel credit just for booking direct through March. Monteverdi Tuscany offers a 4th night free plus dinner at their Michelin-starred restaurant on 7+ night stays.
Savvy travelers are combining these direct booking perks with existing loyalty program benefits to maximize value. Eligible Hilton elites can stack their exclusive discounted rates with space-available upgrades to nicer room categories. Marriott Platinum and Ambassador members can capitalize on premium internet and lounge access, late checkout and milestone bonus points.
Of course, it's not just leisure guests reaping rewards. Bleisure travelers can take advantage of discounted weekend rates for personal travel before or after a business trip. And properties are enhancing amenities to attract corporate bookings, with hubs like Hilton McLean Tysons Corner providing upgrades, executive lounges, and dedicated conference staff.
To source these deals, the best strategy is to sign up for hotel loyalty programs, browse member-exclusive offers and communicate any trip needs when booking. Comparing rates on a hotel's website vs. an OTA can reveal extra perks too. And don't be shy about directly asking for a discount or upgrade at check-in, especially if you have status.
Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Cruise Lines Set Sail with New Health Protocols
After a two-year hiatus, cruise lines are eagerly setting sail again with exciting itineraries and sparkling new ships. But vestiges of the pandemic remain, with updated health protocols designed to keep passengers and crew safe in close quarters. From testing requirements to vaccination policies, cruise lovers should understand these measures before booking.
According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 100% of ocean-going cruise lines will require passengers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, with the primary series and boosters highly recommended. Testing mandates vary based on itinerary: ships staying within U.S. waters follow CDC guidelines, while requirements are looser for exotic international voyages. Royal Caribbean, for example, asks unvaccinated domestic travelers to show a negative test at check-in; unvaccinated foreign guests need one prior to departure or at embarkation.
Onboard, cruises tout improved ventilation systems and stringent sanitation procedures in dining rooms, theaters and cabins. Crew members undergo regular testing and isolation if infected. To care for symptomatic passengers, ships carry PCR test kits, medical staff and designated quarantine rooms. Mask wearing remains optional in most indoor areas unless local regulations require otherwise.
By and large, travelers praise these safeguards. On a recent Celebrity Cruises sailing, Melissa noted feeling "very protected with requirements and sanitation stations everywhere." Alex raved about his Disney cruise, saying "COVID protocols were so stringent I felt safer than on land!"
Still, outbreaks can and do occur, temporarily interrupting the fun. Peter described chaos and confusion after 30 people tested positive on his Royal Caribbean voyage, forcing rapid isolation and quarantine. "Once the outbreak hit, the anxiety was palpable," he admitted.
Cruise lines try to minimize disruptions when COVID cases emerge. Patrick appreciated Norwegian's "easy, rapid response testing" after he reported cold symptoms during his trip. "The nurse administered a test in my cabin and I received results within hours," he said. "I could quickly resume activities once I tested negative."
In the rare event of a large outbreak, itinerary changes like skipping port stops may be required. Travelers concerned about risks may want to consider purchasing Cancel for Any Reason insurance to recoup costs if an outbreak derails their cruise.
Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Destinations Roll Out Tourism Campaigns
Eager to revive tourism spending after the pandemic slump, destinations worldwide are rolling out targeted marketing campaigns and irresistible travel deals. From tropical paradises to storied European capitals, savvy travelers can capitalize on these aggressive efforts to attract visitors back.
In the Caribbean, islands battered by COVID's economic impact are combining irresistible airfare and hotel packages with festive events to lure beach-loving vacationers. Jamaica promotes value-driven Romance Months with up to 55% off accommodations at all-inclusive resorts. Through its 'We Go Too' initiative, Grenada highlights local culture and outdoor adventure with deals like 45% off select hotels.
Across the Atlantic, Turkey launches its largest international tourism campaign ever. The Go Turkey initiative showcases the diversity of experiences across seven distinct regions. Star actor Morgan Freeman narrates TV spots highlighting cultural treasures, natural wonders and cuisine. For 2023, Turkey waived visa requirements for travelers from 52 countries.
With Qatar Airways increasing flights to Thailand, the Thailand Tourism Authority focuses promotions on Middle East visitors. From luggage wraps trumpeting "See You in Thailand" to social media influencer trips, Thailand aims to revive this once-strong market. Travelers worldwide can score deals at Thailand Longstay packages starting under $1,000 for 60+ day trips including accommodations, activities and medical coverage.
Australia's Tourism Australia made waves with its Matesong campaign. The musical extravaganza stars Aussie celebrities like Kylie Minogue rending a catchy ode to the country's vibrant food, wine and culture. For their $45 million Tourism 2030 strategy, Australia prioritizes sustainable travel, indigenous experiences and access for visitors with disabilities. Travelers who take advantage of discounted flights and Aussie hotel deals help support this recovery.
Cities closer to home also vie for tourist dollars. After the success of its 2022 See You Soon campaign showcasing NYC's arts and culture scene, NYC & Company focuses on reviving international visitation for 2023. The It's Time for New York City initiative highlights boosted global air service alongside the city's iconic attractions and newly opened museums.
Never one to be outdone, Las Vegas drives visitation through deals like discounted rooms on weeknights to fill excess capacity. MGM Resorts International launches an aggressive national ad campaign with CEO Bill Hornbuckle imploring travelers to "Get back to Vegas. Back to the bars, shows, and thrills."
Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - OTAs Report Increase in Searches and Bookings
Online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Booking.com and Kayak are seeing a substantial rebound in travel demand based on rising searches and bookings on their platforms. For deal-hunting travelers, this intensified competition spells serious opportunities to score savings if you know how to play the game.
According to Expedia's 2022 Year in Review report, global searches on their sites increased 25% and lodging bookings jumped 21% last year versus 2021. Beach locales like Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Montego Bay ranked among the top-searched worldwide destinations, while major cities including Paris, London and Rome placed in the top 10.
Kayak's Travel Trend reports tell a similar story. Searches on their metasearch engine rose significantly for warm weather spots like Las Vegas, Orlando and Los Angeles last year. Interest in international staples like London and Bangkok also bounced back after depressed demand during the pandemic.
What's driving this travel demand resurgence? Wanderlust, pure and simple. After two years of COVID-related restrictions, people are hungry to explore the world again. And with airlines and hotels ramping up capacity, OTAs make it easy to quickly search routes and compare lodging options across providers.
Savvy travelers turn this increased competition into serious savings. Signing up for OTA loyalty programs like Expedia Rewards unlocks additional discounts and amenities during checkout. Enable price tracking alerts for trips you hope to take and jump when airfares drop into your range. Check both Google Flights and OTAs as fares don't always match. And don't forget to scour three star hotels on OTA sites, as their lower rates and locations near top attractions often deliver the best overall value.
I always make sure to compare lodging rates directly on hotel sites versus OTAs too. Many times, joining the brand's free loyalty program unlocks lower member prices unavailable to the OTAs. During high seasons, calling the hotel directly about advance purchase savings that beat OTA fares can score the real hidden gems. And pro tip - politely asking to match or beat a lower OTA rate at check-in may just win you an on-the-spot discount.
Smooth Skies Ahead? How the Travel Industry is Bouncing Back in 2023 - Business Travel Expected to Rebound
After a precipitous decline during the pandemic, business travel is mounting its long-awaited comeback in 2023. Companies aim to revive in-person sales calls, site visits, conferences and training events following two years of video meetings. For road warriors, this return to the skies brings cautious optimism along with updated policies and procedures to protect employee health and safety.
Recent surveys confirm that firms plan to loosen travel restrictions as conditions improve. According to Deloitte, over two-thirds of executives will require employees to travel as much or more for internal meetings and external client visits as they did before COVID. American Express Global Business Travel expects corporate travel spending to recover to 93% of 2019 levels this year.
What's fueling this demand? For many companies, virtual meetings don't provide the same impact as face-to-face for critical initiatives like securing new business, onboarding new hires and fostering culture. As Stephanie, an account manager for Oracle, explains: "Selling high-value software requires that human touch. Meeting clients in person builds trust and stronger relationships."
At the same time, firms recognize they must update policies to enable safe, sustainable travel that protects staff. Enterprise Holdings requires employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations including recommended boosters before any work trips. Adobe prioritizes trips that maximize impact versus sheer volume, optimizing traveler wellbeing over dated metrics like number of visits or miles flown.
For frequent business travelers, this means adapting to new protocols that reduce virus transmission and make journeys more seamless. Mask requirements have eased, but some companies still expect travelers to use them during flights or client visits. Testing before high-risk meetings provides an added safeguard. Travelers must remain diligent about washing hands, using sanitizer and monitoring for any COVID symptoms.
Advance planning and organization proves essential to minimize hassles. Matt, an account executive for IBM, shares: "I allow extra time for any COVID tests required before my trip and keep masks handy. I also book airport lounges and prepay for WiFi to ensure I can stay productive if there are delays or cancellations."
Road warriors also praise apps like TripIt that sync travel plans and reservations across platforms into one master itinerary. Electronic boarding passes stored on phones reduce touchpoints. Mobile check-in and digital keys help them bypass crowded front desks. Loyalty status with airlines, hotels and rental car agencies unlocks perks like premium seating, early boarding and upgrades that make business travel more bearable.