Consumer Trends

New research shows travel is set for a rebound

Two separate studies show tourists and business travelers are getting back on the road at nearly pre-pandemic levels.
Photograph: Shutterstock

In another sign of business conditions normalizing for the hospitality business, nearly 9 out of 10 consumers worldwide intend to spend at least as much on travel this year as they did in pre-pandemic years, according to a survey by American Express.

Separately, research from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) shows that business travel, a key source of business for restaurants, should rebound to 80% of the 2019 level by the third quarter of this year. Analysis conducted for the group projects travel for business will increase overall this year by 14% from the 2021 level, with the tally topping pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

The findings are particularly good news for fine-dining restaurants. Before the pandemic, white-tablecloth places drew about 41% of their sales from out-of-towners, according to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Restaurant Industry report.

But even quick-service and fast-casual places depend on travelers, with 23% and 25% of their respective sales coming from persons on the road, the Association found.

Travel ground to a near halt in 2020 as consumers and business travelers were advised to work at home, never mind board an airplane. That caution has given way to a conviction that business travel needs to resume for the good of American companies and their employees, according to the AH&LA. In a survey of 2,210 Americans, 77% of respondents who identified themselves as business travelers say it is more important than ever to get back on the road.

American Express’ 2022 Global Travel Trends Report was more bullish. In a survey of 2,000 Americans and 1,000 consumers based elsewhere, 86% of respondents said they will spend as much or more on travel this year as they did in a typical year before 2020.

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