Every year, millions of Americans make the journey to see friends and family for Thanksgiving. In years past, travelers would simply hop in their cars or book a last-minute flight. Trip Concierge booking data reveals that Thanksgiving 2021 still won’t be a typical year as ongoing travel restrictions, shifting health and safety rules and personal feeling for safety continue to change travel habits.
Trip Concierge analyzed data from its own flight, hotel, and car rental bookings to reveal specific trends for Thanksgiving 2021 to help answer some of the top questions facing travelers:
• When to book flights and hotels
• Whether to choose a hotel or a vacation rental
• How to secure a reasonably priced car rental
• When to book flights and hotels
Air Travel: Less flights, means less choice and higher than normal prices.
With global airlines still operating thirty-four (34%) below their 2019 seat capacity, Trip Concierge data shows a significant price increase for last-minute U.S. domestic travel, with international routes showing more frequent deals. Airlines are still mostly waiving change fees to give travelers comfort, but airfares continue to trend higher as lack of available seats cause prices to spike. Trip Concierge data also indicates that advance bookings of six months and above are seeing on average two (2) flight changes per booking which might be as simple as a time change but can be as complex as a complete schedule change, or outright cancellation as airlines rejig their schedules on a weekly basis.
Trip Concierge customers are booking on average sixty (60) days out and are mostly avoiding basic economy fares that offer no ability to change dates, receive refunds or future travel vouchers. This compared to years prior to 2019 when the majority of travelers were willing to accept Basic Economy deals over Thanksgiving as travelers had certainty of being home for the holidays.
Hotels: Travelers are booking well ahead, but choose a flexible rate or purchase insurance.
Trip Concierge reservation data shows warm-weather destination like Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Hawaii continue to be in high demand, with reservations being made on average three to four months out. These destinations continue to show scarcity, reduced choice, and increases prices especially for last-minute bookings. Current data reveals a twelve percent (12%) increase in cancellations for international destinations in the third quarter of this year. With sixty percent (60%) of travelers booking non-refundable rates for hotels in Mexico and Caribbean destinations, compared to eighty percent (80%) in years prior to 2019.
The opposite is true for accommodations in the United States, where ninety percent (90%) of travelers keep their bookings, with average advance booking of sixty-five (65) days prior to departure. The average rate difference between a non-refundable room rate and a flexible room rate for travelers is under $10 dollars per night for most major hotel chains.
Eighty percent (80%) of travelers that are booking non-refundable room rates, are also booking trip cancellation insurance, as a hedge against losses from last-minute cancellations or government-imposed travel restrictions.
Whether to choose a hotel or a vacation rental
Vacation homes are a great alternative to hotels, and when making a choice the top three decision factors identified by Trip Concierge customers are (i) cleaning standards, (ii) access to testing and (iii) how comfortable travelers are with being in public. Customers primary concerns remain the effectiveness of homeowners’ ability to meet travel standards introduced by larger hotel chains. The introduction of testing as part of all-inclusive hotel offerings and the choice between liveliness of a resort hotel with proximity to other guests, versus continuing their isolation while on vacation.
Car Rentals: Sticker shock and securing the car rental before the flight and hotel.
With car rental companies finding it hard to purchase new cars at a pace to meet current demand, bottlenecks continue to happen during vacation booking. Based on Trip Concierge data, prices for car rentals continue to trend about 95% higher than in 2019, when vehicles are still available. Based on a survey of our certified travel experts, last-minute car rental bookings continue to be difficult in popular vacation destinations like Hawaii and Florida. With off-airport locations like downtown needing to be chosen to reduce costs or ensure availability. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of Trip Concierge customers choose the flexible “Pay at the Counter” rate in case travel plans change.
About Trip Concierge
Trip Concierge is one of America’s highest rated and award-winning travel agencies with offices from coast-to-coast. Providing a wide selection of top vacation destinations, flight, hotel and cruise deals. Our travel experts help guests explore destination options, assist with navigating travel health rules and monitor their journey. Trip Concierge travelers enjoy stress and anxiety free travel as they venture back out to explore the world.
Find the original press release on Associated Press here.