According to a recent study conducted by ASTA, the American Society of Travel Advisors, the three main concerns that Americans are prioritizing as we continue recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic are more experiential travel offerings, more customer service and a return to their favorite destinations.
Experience Is Key
Forty-six percent of respondents reported that they want their travel to provide more unique experiences.
Unique experiences can range from booking tours to lesser-known destinations or excursions to places not many know about, to taking part in voluntourism activities or being immersed in local culture.
Kim Cook, owner of Love To Travel, has seen an increase in unique travel experiences, especially among her clients who are planning their honeymoons, explaining that the post-pandemic wedding boom is causing more newlyweds t
o seek out more atypical honeymoon experiences than their friends in the past have.
“The honeymoon market has been requesting unique destinations and experiences,” commented Cook. “They want to book something different than all their friends. Many are at the age that they know five to ten couples getting married this year, so they are looking for ways to personalize their honeymoon experience.”
Improved and Expanded Customer Service
The report found that 49 percent of American travelers want more customer service. This can range from customer support during flight delays to in-destination help from travel advisors.
Travel advisors can help improve customer service for travelers since they typically help a traveler with everything from the planning stages to questions that may arise during travel. Lindsey Epperly, CEO of Jetset World Travel, identifies customer service as one of the biggest priorities among her own clients.
“We’ve noticed that travelers’ expectations seem to be higher than ever, especially regarding customer service – whether that is on the advisor side or once on the ground,” said Epperly. “This can create a tension point considering how much is still outside of an advisor’s hands, despite the rolled back restrictions.”
“We are working to set these expectations in a realistic manner, whether that’s level-setting regarding turnaround times or in-destination staffing concerns. The key to travel remains flexibility, but when travelers are paying top-dollar for an experience they have been waiting for two plus years, there is often an unspoken demand for perfection,” she finished.
Good Memories Drive Return Trips
Forty-eight percent of American travelers want to return to a destination they’ve visited in the past.
The desire to return to a previously visited destination could be from the sense of familiarity and comfort that comes with it. If a traveler is returning to traveling abroad for the first time this year after the pandemic, they might be more comfortable with planning a shorter trip to a destination they know and love, rather than taking a deep dive into an unfamiliar place.
“My guess as to why this is happening is that, during the pandemic and shutdown, clients quickly understood that they could lose access to any place at any time,” said Epperly. “Flights can be grounded, borders can be closed, whether to one isolated destination or to the entire globe.”
“For that reason, if they have experienced a destination they know they love, I believe they have more motivation to return to it. Additionally, they are removing the unknown piece of the planning puzzle – the big question of, ‘Will I love this place as much as I loved my favorite place?’ which can provide some sense of being in control and reducing the number of uncertain elements on any given trip,” Epperly added.
Laurence Pinckney, CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC, echoes Epperly’s thoughts, citing destinations like Mexico, the Caribbean and Brazil as the top destinations his clients have returned to this year. “It is familiar and quick,” he said.
While these three priorities are by no means an exhaustive list of travel concerns shared among Americans this year, they should shed some light on how a large portion of our population thinks about traveling.
For the latest travel news, updates and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.