MIAMI – Travel demand was sky high this summer. It was so high the supply couldn’t keep up, leading to flight cancellations, delays, and service issues around the world.
A combination of increased demand, staffing shortages, and severe weather led to more than 50,000 flight cancellations in the U.S. and around 500,000 delays between Memorial Day and Labor Day according to FlightAware.
Almost one in four U.S. flights were late.
Matthew Upchurch, the CEO of the luxury travel network Virtuoso, said he anticipates cancellations will continue for the next few months as airlines work to staff up. He doesn’t expect demand will wane.
“I think the travel surge is here to stay for quite some time because nothing motivates people like having something taken away, they took for granted,” he said.
That means you need to plan earlier, especially at busy times of the year.
“When should you start your holiday planning? Last year. No, I’m only being half funny about this because people are booking things a year, six months in advance,” said Upchurch.
Across the nation, the highest-ranking tourism markets are benefiting. In Las Vegas, tourism is rebounding but has still not reached pre-pandemic levels.
“Domestic tourists, it’s back to those levels already. Groups right now, we’re at about 90 percent of the pre-pandemic levels. And international tourists are maybe at 90 percent. We expect to be back to kind of normal levels by the end of the year,” said Jonathan Hallyard, the CFO of MGM Resorts.
Overseas, the General Manager of the Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese, Edoardo Giuntoli, said occupancy spiked as high as 80% this summer. The difference he saw was impulse travel, stays booked with little advance notice as tourists jumped on whatever was available, no matter the price.
“The craziness of summer 2022 will probably disappear and we will go back to a normal, traditional lead time which means two to three months booking time before traveling,” he said.
One trend that is expected to persist – longer trips, as more tourists pair remote work with travel.
Upchurch also predicts prices that have risen because of inflation and increased demand won’t come down anytime soon, especially when China starts allowing its citizens to once again travel internationally.