An estimated 160 million Americans are preparing to travel this holiday season, but a recently released survey found that the season will be unlike past years.
Deloitte, a company that provides audit and security, tax, advisory and risk and financial advisory services to businesses, said it expected 48 percent of the country to travel from late November to mid-January, but recent setbacks such as delays and pandemic-related concerns become a distant memory.
In fact, concerns about disruptions and health-related issues were some of the lowest-rated factors weighing on the minds of those not planning to travel.
Industry analysts believe pent-up demand from canceled itineraries during the COVID-19 pandemic has been exhausted and travelers are looking for less exotic vacations to spend time with friends and family.
“The travel industry reaches its peak this holiday season,” said Mike Daher, vice chairman of Deloitte. “Spending time with family and friends is even more important during the holidays, and Americans are embracing that tradition as they pack away many of the worries that affected plans last year.” Travel providers that deliver unforgettable holiday experiences will have the opportunity to continue to engage travelers looking to plan additional trips in the new year.”
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When will airports, hotels, highways be busiest?
According to survey participants, the period between Thanksgiving and the end of November will be the busiest, with about a third of all travelers starting their vacation.
The second busiest period is expected to be from Christmas to New Year’s Eve, with around 27% of travelers starting their journeys.
Many travelers plan to stay in hotels, a significant departure from previous years.
Travel experts said the surge in hotel bookings was notable and was the result of declining volatility from the pandemic.
“Showing great enthusiasm for travel, Americans are taking advantage of all the joy the season has to offer,” Eileen Crowley, vice chairman of Deloitte, said in a statement. “Boomers and Gen Z will have a particularly strong impact on the industry. In general, more travelers are planning to stay in hotels during the holidays rather than just visiting family and friends. What’s more, laptops continue to use flexible working arrangements to make the most of the holiday season, creating new and memorable opportunities for travelers and suppliers alike.”
While hotel bookings are on the rise, industries that serve road travelers will lose the most traffic this holiday season.
Travelers’ intentions to hit the road this travel season are down by double-digits from 2021, with only about 50% planning to take part in an extended car trip away from home.
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No hangover effects from the 2022 trip fail
Travelers seem confident that the domino effect that affected many airline operations in 2022 will not be repeated or at least disrupt their routes.
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 14,000 flights between Dec. 23 and Jan. 1 due to an apparent logistics breakdown, the consequences of which the company is still dealing with. The Department of Transportation recently notified the carrier that it failed to provide adequate customer service assistance, notifications and prompt refunds, allegations that could result in significant civil penalties. The company said it has increased equipment and improved the airports’ overall winter readiness to operate more efficiently.
Ground crews at many airports, including Philadelphia International Airport, are already gearing up for busy travel months ahead.
“We train our snow removal equipment before the season so that they are ready to go if there is snow and hopefully not when there is snow, and we have a de-icing pad ready,” said Heather Redfern, spokeswoman for Philadelphia International Airport. . “You know, about freezing, that’s sometimes a problem here with the cold weather, and if the planes have been here overnight, they have to (de-icing) before they take off.”