Americans expect to travel less for vacation after the pandemic

Ipsos finds lingering pandemic impacts on business and vacation travel outlook

The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Matt Carmichael Vice President, Editorial Strategy, North America
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New York, April 19, 2021 – Americans are eager to escape their pandemic cocoons, but they mostly expect to stay grounded for their vacations. Since leisure travel depends heavily on the business travel infrastructure, the impacts on business travel will have myriad implications for future vacations, according to Ipsos' latest issue of What the Future magazine.

Ipsos data shows that Americans’ expectations for business travel fluctuate with pandemic trends. Some top-level findings include the following: Most business travelers will feel more ready to fly within a year, yet just over half (53%) of business travelers expect to travel less for business in the future. The findings have broad implications for the hospitality and travel industries.

Similarly, more than half of Americans overall expect to take fewer vacations in 2021 compared to a normal year. Travelers will consider virus safety precautions in their planning. The reasons why people travel will determine the type of accommodations people book. There’s no single points incentive to sway business road warriors, and racial differences vary on where people plan to go. With budgets squeezed, many people are open to virtual reality and augmented reality trips.

With these insights for this issue of What the Future, Ipsos asks experts on travel and hospitality four major questions:

  • Roger Dow, CEO and president of the U.S. Travel Association —Can vacation travel survive without business travel?
  • Julius Robinson, chief sales and marketing officer, U.S. and Canada, Marriott International —How will our hotel stays change? 
  • Whitney Johnson, director of visuals and immersive experiences, National Geographic —Will virtual travel play a bigger role in our future vacations?
  • Brian Kelly, The Points Guy —How will the post-pandemic points economy impact the dream vacation? 

The Vacation issue also features Ipsos researchers’ guidance on how to answer these questions for consumers, society and brands. The full issue is here. Below are research highlights followed by a topline of the survey results:

  • 53% of business travelers expect to travel less for business after the pandemic; 64% expect to have more virtual meetings instead of traveling; 53% think their company will reduce their travel budget compared to before the pandemic.
  • 54% of Americans overall expect to take fewer vacations in 2021 compared to a normal year; 36% expect to take about the same amount and 10% of Americans expect to take more; 62% of people with household incomes of $100,000+ expect to take fewer vacations in 2021 than in a normal year.
  • 69% of business travelers say they’ll feel comfortable flying again within a year.
  • 72% of travelers prefer hotels when visiting a large city for the first time or stopping overnight on a road trip; 34% of travelers prefer vacation rentals when taking a family trip; 34% prefer camping when visiting a national park or scenic destination.
  • 30% of Americans would choose Europe for their “dream” vacation, led by 35% of Hispanic travelers, 32% of white travelers and 16% of Black travelers; 24% of Americans would choose the U.S. for their “dream” vacation, led by 28% of Black travelers, then 26% of white travelers and 17% of Hispanic travelers.
  • 66% of Americans would use an app or device to virtually to explore a new city or cultural site, including 77% of business travelers and 70% of people concerned about their vacation budget.

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 24-25, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 1,114 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents.

For full results, please refer to the following annotated questionnaire: Click here

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 24-25, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 1,114 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.

The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2018 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,114, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4.8 percentage points).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Matt Carmichael

Editor, What the Future and

Vice President, Editorial Strategy

Ipsos North America

+1 312 218 7922
[email protected]

Mallory Newall

Director, US

Public Affairs

+1 202 420-2014

[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Matt Carmichael Vice President, Editorial Strategy, North America

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