Earlier this summer, the return of tourism, especially the strong return of domestic entertainment venues, meant that travelers usually paid more for flights, resorts and car rentals. However, the wave of coronavirus infections associated with delta variants has overshadowed predictions that are still very costly.
In terms of travel, consumer confidence is weakening. Market research company Destination Analysts has surveyed the travel sentiment of 1,200 Americans every week since March 2020. By August 9, it found that optimism had collapsed by 40% since the beginning of June, and only 20% of respondents The reader is optimistic, one year. -The latest download. Most people still think road trips, outdoor activities, and eating out are safe, but less than half of them have considered flying, visiting indoor attractions such as museums, or using Uber safes.
Traditionally, autumn is the season of relaxation for leisure travel, leading to lower prices during peak seasons. Last year, the virtual school and work-anywhere policy extended the power of summer to many resorts. Now, as vaccination rates rise, will flexible working hours continue to allow travelers to change their Zoom background this fall, or will it reduce the fear of delta variants and face-to-face work or study?
We analyzed the fuzzy crystal ball of travel to understand the future price trend.
Ticket price reduction
As domestic passengers blast off one after another, ticket prices took off this summer. The Consumer Price Index is a monthly indicator that measures changes in average prices of consumer goods. It shows that airline fares rose by 7% between April and May, while in June it rose by nearly 3%. They stabilized in July and fell by 0.1%.
But when travelers consider the threat of delta variants, many people are canceling their plans. Southwest Airlines stated in a recent regulatory document that leisure passenger traffic and fares were higher than July 2019 levels, but lowered its third-quarter profit outlook, and said: “The company has recently experienced a slowdown. Closing bookings and closing orders increased travel cancellations in August 2021, believed to be due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases associated with the delta variant.”
Although many people predict that business travel will return in the fall, variants of the coronavirus may prevent this recovery, further depressing airfare prices. For example, United Airlines plans to operate a 26% reduction in flights in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2019.
Consistent with the pre-pandemic pattern , booking app Hopper predicts that fall leisure air tickets will decline, as leisure travelers will figure out how to take the virus on vacation. It expects that the price of domestic air tickets will fall by 10% in the fall, which is consistent with the pattern in 2018 and 2019, and it expects the average price of domestic round-trip air tickets to be US$260, compared to US$288 this summer.
Location prediction hotel price
In some popular leisure destinations, hotels not only match pre-pandemic activity levels; exceed 2019 numbers. According to data from accommodation analysis company STR, the average room rate of a hotel room nationwide in the past month was US$141, compared with US$100 in August last year and US$135 in the same period in 2019.
However, house prices in big cities are still low (New York City averages $205 compared to $240 in 2019), but house prices in Hawaii, the Florida Keys, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina exceed pre-pandemic standards. For example, the 4-week average price in the Florida Keys in August 2019 was $239, compared to $408 this month.
Christopher K. Anderson, a professor of operations management at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management, said the popularity and cost of recreational destinations that tourists can drive to “seem to continue to decline”.
Generally, business trips increase in the fall and leisure trips decrease in the summer. But many experts believe that delta variants can slow down the progress of face-to-face meetings and events.
“I expect that areas that have historically relied on a lot of international business travel and a lot of leisure travel, such as New York City, will have very weak demand and prices from the end of 2021 to 2022,” Anderson said.
Although there are still deals in the largest cities in the United States, Hopper suggested that prices be lowered at the last minute, indicating that house prices have fallen by an average of 13% after two weeks of occupancy.
Increase in holiday rentals
If you have tried to book a holiday home on a beach or mountain in the United States this summer, you may have experienced a big drop because the national average house price has risen by 20% compared to the price. House prices in 2019, according to AirDNA, which analyzes the short-term rental market.
In popular areas such as Park City in Utah and near Joshua Tree National Park in California, rents have increased by 50%.
In July, the short-term rental occupancy rate reached 84% in the busiest destinations, including Myrtle Beach and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From shared rooms to luxury homes, the median rent in July was $294, a 21% increase from July 2019.
AirDNA research director Jamie Lane said that beach destinations and resorts like this are “a very suitable type of destination for short-term rentals,” and pointed out that city rents have remained at 30% to 30% compared to before. between. 35%.-Epidemic litigation. Some, such as Boston and Los Angeles, can enjoy a 50% discount.
Lane said: “It seems that the increase in delta variants will delay the recovery of urban areas, but we don’t expect the rest of the country to be affected too much,” he pointed out that during the pandemic, vacation rentals have changed many of the new ones that are being sought. Travelers provide more space and more convenient facilities for long-term stays.
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Landlords who use Guesty, a short-term rental property management platform, are already increasing their vacation booking rates. Reservations are nearly 250% higher than in November and December last year, and 54% higher than those months in 2019. On Thanksgiving, the average nightly room rate was 68% higher than before the pandemic, reaching $436.
Guesty President and Chief Operating Officer Vered Raviv Schwarz said these figures show that “consumers are willing to travel under the threat of mutation exposure and pay more in the process,” driven by pent-up travel demand.
Fluctuations in ground transportation costs
In summer, whether it is renting a car or playing Uber, transportation costs will increase.
According to the Consumer Price Index, car rental rates rose by 73% between July 2020 and 2021 because agencies that dumped inventory at the beginning of the pandemic had difficulty replenishing inventory when travelers returned.
Now, with the end of the summer vacation, prices are back to reality. I recently rented a car in Los Angeles for $133 in September, the same price as before the pandemic.
But Jonathan Weinberg, founder of Autoslash, a service that looks for cheap rents, said that “the reasonable prices expected in autumn and winter may not last” and pointed out that cars on the road are approaching high mileage and should be sold. . Based on the supply of semiconductors for brake sensors and parking cameras in automobiles, it is still a challenge to supplement them.
This summer, ride-sharing platforms such as Uber and Lyft also had higher prices, partly because some drivers did not want to go back on the road because of health problems. To attract them, these services increase their rates by raising prices during periods of high demand.
According to Rakuten Intelligence, which analyzes the purchases of more than 1 million online shoppers, in July 2021, the cost of carpooling increased by 26% year-on-year.
Before the driver returns, one way to avoid price increases is to try services that do not charge you. These include traditional taxis, which have their own apps, including Curb; ride-sharing startup Holholo, which operates on five islands in Hawaii; and Wingz, which provides airport transfers and other services in more than a dozen cities in the United States, including San Francisco and Dallas.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.