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The Travel Boom Has Arrived, Shows American Express Poll - TRAVEL WEEKLY

Jamie Biesiada

Mar 22, 2022

The pent-up demand for travel predicted throughout the height of the pandemic has arrived, according to American Express Travel president Audrey Hendley.

"We're really seeing it now," Hendley said. "Customers are eager to book. They're eager to travel again, and are booking trips with more purpose than ever before."

American Express Travel on Monday released its 2022 Global Travel Trends Report, compiled from online poll data. Respondents are both interested in traveling this year and planning to spend more money.

According to the poll, 74% of respondents are willing to book a trip in 2022 even if it will require modifications or cancellation down the road. Sixty two percent plan on taking two to four trips this year.

In total, 72% of respondents plan to spend more on domestic travel than last year, and 64% plan on spending more on international travel.

Hendley identified three key trends to come out of the data: More people are taking multiple trips, booking windows have lengthened and international travel is back.

February was American Express Travel's "biggest month ever," she said. Even in the fourth quarter of 2021, global bookings were up 24% compared to 2019.

One year ago, booking windows were extremely short, she said.

"Now we see people booking further out, which is great, because it's really showing their sentiment, planning, and being intentional and purposeful," Hendley said.

In January and February, 43% of bookings were for travel more than 30 days out, Hendley said. The two months prior, November and December 2021, only 30% of bookings were for travel more than 30 days away.

"It's a nice shift," Hendley said. "People are starting to plan ahead, think ahead."

For U.S. travelers, 39% of bookings were for international travel at this time last year. Now, that number stands at 61%.

In January, the top destinations for U.S. travelers were, in order, London, Paris, Miami, New York and Los Angeles. In February, London and Paris remained the top two, followed by New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

By comparison, in 2021 London was the fifth most popular destination, according to American Express Travel bookings. Ahead of it were New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Dallas.

Travelers are also more flexible today, Hendley said, especially with more liberal change and cancellation policies from suppliers.

"Our forward-looking bookings are very strong," Hendley said. "We have a lot of interest and a lot of demand for summer travel into the fall, so I'm hopeful that continues."

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