Have Shot, Will Travel
As of the writing of this page, over 64,000,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine
have been administered in the US. and just over 6,000,000 are being administered daily. And while it would be premature to celebrate the end of the pandemic and a return to life as “normal”, this is a great beginning of the end and one which will usher in a recovery for the travel industry.
The question on the minds of travel advisors is likely: Who will the first travelers be and where will they go? Let’s take a look at who is likely to be in the group that will return to travel the soonest. Logically, it will be the people who have been vaccinated that will feel most comfortable venturing out of their home cocoon.
This means that overworked first responders and seniors should be your target market for your current marketing efforts. Even better, these are the very demographics that have the means to travel. Retired seniors have likely seen large increases in their investments over the past few years and, for better or worse, first responders were one group with very low unemployment levels during the past year. Speaking as the father and father-in-law, of 3 first responders, I can tell you with certainty that they are ready for a vacation now! This trend has already begun with many domestic resorts reporting that bookings of their AARP and senior rates are up 50-60%.
As for the where these groups will want to go, travel within the US will continue to lead the recovery. With the requirement that all people flying internationally into the US present a negative Covid test, there is a fear of ending up quarantined in a foreign country, or not being allowed back in the United States. One exception to this rule is the USVIs and Puerto Rico who are not subject to this requirement, and will likely see a spike in bookings.
Most people will be aware that, despite having the vaccine, they are not immune to Covid but rather will suffer far less severe symptoms if they do contract it. Therefore, travelers will be selecting a vacation spot where trusted sanitation measures are in place and where social distancing would still be possible. Also of interest to these early travelers will be suppliers that require a vaccine in order to utilize their services. American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) and small-ship cruising specialist Victory Cruise Lines announced they be implementing a vaccination mandate, effective July 1, 2021. It is likely that more suppliers will implement this policy.
While we are not nearly out of the woods yet, there is a glimmer of light in the distance that is growing brighter by the day. Those agencies and travel advisors that follow the trends, and the vaccines, will likely emerge from the darkness soonest.