Here it comes…Steve Glenn’s travel industry predictions for 2021
During the past eighteen years, 73% of my predictions have come true! (Please forgive me for not including last year in the calculations as the virus upset everything in the travel world) Over the next four weeks, I will provide you with 40 of my travel industry crystal ball predictions. Here is week 1 of what I think will happen in 2021. Part 2 of 4 will arrive in your inbox next week.
1. There will be a massive wave of vacation travel after Memorial Day and for the rest of the year – The first three months of 2021 will be extremely slow as the third and fourth wave of the virus sweeps the world. But as the vaccine gets rolled out the pent-up demand will be released for travel after Memorial Day and the rest of the year. “Katie bar the door” as people will want to make up ground for being stuck in their homes for the last year. We will go from what seems like zero travel in January to one hundred miles an hour after Memorial Day. It will be crazy!
2. Make your vacation reservations before Memorial Day or you may pay double the price – This is hard to believe but the pent up demand is so big to travel later this year that those that wait to make reservations after Memorial Day will be flabbergasted to see shortages of flights and resorts at reasonable prices. Basically, the tsunami of pent-up demand to travel caused by COVID will be much bigger than the supply of airline seats and resorts after Memorial Day. High demand mixed with low supply means much higher prices if you wait too long.
3. Travel in 2021 will be centered in North America with “fun and sun” destinations continuing to lead the way – Resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Florida will lead the way in the travel industry recovery in 2021. People are tired of being cooped up in their houses and want to get outside and start living life again. People will also want to put their toe in the water by traveling to places not too exotic or far from home before they jump in with both feet and explore the world.
4. Hotels got rid of “Resort fees” in 2020 but will implement “COVID cleaning fees” in 2021 – I hate those hidden $25-$75 a night “Resort fees” that some hotels have been charging for the last 5 years. Fortunately, many hotels got rid of those hidden resort fees last year. Now hotels seem to be adopting the adage used by Sir Winston Churchill, “never let a crisis go to waste” by implementing daily “COVID cleaning fees” on top of your hotel room rate. These hidden fees are an insult to travelers and I hope hotels will treat their customers better by being honest and upfront with travelers and not charge these fees.
5. You will have to take a COVID test three days prior to departure and upon arrival for all international travel in 2021 – Hopefully, the airlines will make this a much easier process and much less expensive. It will be an inconvenience to take the test but everyone will feel safer. This means if you travel to Europe you will have 2 tests on your outbound flight and 2 tests when you return. I am hoping that if you have the COVID vaccine that you can skip the tests.
6. Airlines will charge a $10 service fee for using a credit card (Forgive me for sounding like a broken record but the stars have aligned for this to now happen)– For eight straight years I have been predicting this will happen and I have been way ahead of my time (A nice way of saying I was wrong). But this year is different as COVID has forced the airlines to stop charging for change fees, thus they are losing billions of dollars of revenue. I think change fees are gone for good but now the airlines will be forced to look under every rock for more money. Airlines pay anywhere from 2-3% of the cost of your airline ticket to credit card companies when you charge your airline ticket to a credit card. Charging a small fee to use your credit card is actually being done now all over the world. Credit card fees are the next big pot of gold the airlines can attack and capture billions in additional profits.
7. We will actually have millions of unused COVID vaccines available by the Fourth of July – The rollout of vaccines has been slower than planned but in the coming days I project we will soon reach a vaccination rate of one million people a day in the U.S. I expect by April we will have 100 million Americans vaccinated and by the Fourth of July, we will have 200 million Americans with the vaccine. If you factor in the 25% to 30% of the population who says they don’t want to get vaccinated or want to wait until they feel the vaccine is safe we should have all the vaccine we want by July 4th. I personally plan to get the vaccine as soon as I can, however, I know many people who say, “No way Jose”, to getting the COVID vaccine.
8. Yeti will replace plastic bottles in airports – In 2018 the San Francisco International Airport banned plastic water bottles from being sold in the airport. Instead, they have put in 100 water refill stations and demand that travelers use refillable bottles if they want to drink water during a layover. My guess is that more and more travelers will purchase a reusable water bottle (Yeti) with a free refill (I hope). In the long run, buying a $30 Yeti seems like a lot of money but when you look at paying $4 a bottle for water at the airport it only takes 8 bottles to pay for that fashionable pink Yeti. Plus seeing all those plastic water bottles all over the world along the road does make you want to do something to help our environment.
9. This will be a creepy year for personal privacy when traveling– Normally I travel to China several times a year and they do a fingerprint and eye scan (biometric) on you when you enter the country. They also have cameras on every corner and in every building. Combine those cameras with artificial intelligence and basically, they can follow you everywhere and know everything you are doing. I hope that countries like the U.S. and European Union put some limitations on what can and can’t be done without my consent.
10. Travel to Europe will be almost non-existent for the first 3 months of 2021 and then slowly build for the rest of the year – Travel to Europe is basically shut down today. People in many countries cannot even leave their houses. Memorial Day, once again, will be the magical day that vaccines and testing will be in place for the hopeful rebound of European travel as the freeze starts to thaw. I think travel after Labor Day will be extremely strong to Europe as people will want to sneak in a pre-winter trip to their favorite countries in Europe. I know I cant wait to get back to Europe this year. I usually visit four to ten times a year so I am having withdrawal pains right now.
Next week I will send you part 2 of my 4 part travel predictions for 2021. Happy New Year!