Chief Marketing Officer
Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you enjoyed the holidays.
I’ve gotten a few calls from clients wanting to know how travel demand is tracking right now. It seems like it’s on everyone’s mind so I jotted down a recent conversation with my friend Pat.
Pat: In the middle of December you said bookings were trending up despite the news of high Omicron infection rates. What’s happening now?
Carolyn: For the first 10 days of January, there’s been robust demand particularly for business travel. Here are the momentum charts indexed to January 1, 2022.
Pat: How does that compare to 2020? How about 2021?
Carolyn: Here’s the chart comparing booking performance of the first 10 days of 2022 to the same period in the previous 2 years.
The difference vs. early 2020 is the worst we’ve seen since last summer. However, there is reason for optimism; the higher performance vs. 2021 is particularly impressive since we were already seeing strong booking momentum last year during this period.
Pat: Any thoughts about what is happening?
Carolyn: Despite different beliefs on the risk of Covid, both the vaccinated and unvaccinated are now comfortable with traveling. It’s a little more complicated for families with young children. That segment of leisure travel will continue to lag.
Pat: What caveats are there?
Carolyn: Yup, thanks for reminding me. The strength of our data is in leisure and unmanaged business travel. We have less visibility into highly managed corporate travel and group (conference travel) which will be the last to recover. Our trends are a good bellwether for wider industry shifts.
Pat: I’m tracking the TSA checkpoint traffic — isn’t that good enough?
Carolyn: TSA reports on traveler volume with a day lag. Using that information to plan is like trying to drive down the freeway looking through your rearview mirror. Our data is forward-looking since we track search and booking behavior for future travel. Here’s a link to our charts https://adara.com/resources/traveler-trends-tracker/. Decide for yourself what works best for you.
Pat: What suggestions for marketers?
Carolyn: Throughout the last few months we’ve been advocating for a very surgical approach to targeting audiences. We always expected the recovery to be uneven by traveler segments and destinations. That requires marketers to be nimble and vigilant — the audiences that were high-performing last month will need to be re-tuned. The popularity of major cities and key resort destinations is in flux requiring marketing communications to be updated frequently.