Fall and Festive Travel to Remain Above 2019 Levels: Virtuoso

The last of the data shared by Virtuoso at its Travel Week, held at Las Vegas’ Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa from August 13 to 19, covers festive/holiday travel. Luxury Travel Advisor already reported that hotel bookings for fall and festive travel (September 1 to January 15) are at 173 percent of where they were at the same point in 2019—but Virtuoso also shared the motive for these travels, among other tidbits.

The highlight: Many people are ready to make plans, even amid the uncertainty of traveling during a pandemic. In 2020, only 16 percent of Virtuoso clients said they were comfortable planning and adjusting later, if need be; now, that’s up to 28 percent. And in 2020, people waiting to book until closer to their travel date was 22 percent; that’s now consistently down to 15 percent. Things like inflation, increased room rates, COVID and “hectic ‘Airmageddon’ scenes at airports” aren’t slowing luxury travelers.

In terms of the motive behind holiday travel, 71 percent said they will travel for vacation, while 21 percent will travel to see family and friends.

Islands and beaches are topping travelers’ lists for holiday travel, followed by trips with a wellness component, ocean cruises and cities outside the U.S. Six in 10 (62 percent) will travel to multiple destinations, while 38 percent will travel to a single destination. Notably, wellness-focused trips were the only category to see a year over year increase: 2021 (13 percent) versus 2022 (24 percent)

Among the 18- to 34-year-old age group, high-end travelers are seeking out (and are willing to pay more) for travel brands/experiences that focus on environmentally friendly philosophies—those that contribute to local people and that also preserve natural and cultural heritage.

Overall, according to Virtuoso, booking trends are indicative of a strong fall season, during which volume will remain above 2019 levels. While the United States still leads all countries by a significant margin in total hotel and on-site booking volume, Europe will continue to be a hugely popular regional destination market. Coming back to the popularity of islands a beach trips, vacations to the Caribbean seem to be gaining popularity through the rest of 2022 and into 2023.

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