A new word has entered our travel lexicon — vaxication.
The folks at Merriam-Webster dictionary say this mashup of vaccine and vacation took off with the availability COVID-19 vaccines and “the word is used humorously to describe the post-vaccination travel plans people are making.”
The word set the stage for an optimistic outlook on travel at a Canadian media briefing by the Travel Leaders Network this week.
“People who now have the vaccine, they are ready to travel,” said president Roger Block. “We are seeing that in the U.S. and I know as soon as Canada opens up, there is going to be a boom of travel. People are going to the places that are open like never before. One of the biggest problems today is lack of product.”
While bookings begin to rebound in the U.S. and U.K., Canadians are battling a slow vaccination rollout and are still under government restrictions against non-essential travel.
Christine James, vice-president Canada, said 2021 booking trends are now sitting at about 30 percent of where we were at this time in 2019 and Canadians are starting to make bookings once they’ve received their first shots. “I anticipate that booking trend to ramp up as more of our citizens get vaccinated.”
Lindsay Pearlman, senior vice president international leisure, had a warning. “Canadians may, if they don’t start booking now, there may be less inventory because you have reduced capacity as it is, prices are going up because of the reduced capacity and it’s already being booked.”
Canadian agencies are preparing for a return to travel. Many have proactively used the pandemic to update business and marketing plans, attend training, webinars and events, and get new certifications.
Travel Leaders has spotted some emerging trends. People aren’t just talking about bucket list trips, they’re booking them. They’re going all out upgrading their hotels and boosting the lengths of trips. Some are using travel vouchers and future travel credits to secure big trips for 2022, and then also asking for shorter and less expensive trips closer to home in 2021.
“As we develop out of this mayhem it will be different than it was in 2019,” said Pearlman. “Consumer behaviour is looking different.”
He said the role of the travel advisor will be “significantly different and much more important than it was in the past.” Consumers are looking for a sense of comfort, so it’s not just about “selling a cabin” anymore, but “it’s about the safety of being in that cabin.”
People want the flexibility to change and cancel travel plans, and they want help if problems arise during their trips.
Travel Leaders now has a free Book With Confidence program that includes a 57-page vacation health and safety guide and advisor protocols checklist. A Stay With Confidence initiative with Sharecare and Forbes Travel Guide verifies properties with more than 360 health and safety checkpoints.
The TL Network is planning to hold live events that may be tweaked depending on public health measures. Fourteen mixers are slated for August to December. Fall Regionals will happen in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton. The annual conference is slated to take place October 18 to 21 in Orlando at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.