Piña Coladas in the Rain
By Jason Jourdan
Singer Rupert Holmes asked about piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. These eternal questions are on replay in the minds of affluent travelers everywhere as they plan their escape!
Global lockdowns have given rise to a surge in luxury travel bookings. Escape planners have already filled up most of 2021, and the trend continues into 2022 despite an average 12% hike in rates. The wealthy are making new plans and holding onto reservations made pre-COVID. High-end travel network, Virtuoso, has found eight out of every ten customers are keeping 2020 reservations or rebooking for 2021 instead of canceling plans altogether. Virtuoso also found 39% planning to travel within three months, and 66% are ready to get on a plane right now!
Responding to a survey conducted by luxury travel and lifestyle industry consultancy, Strategic Vision, well-heeled consumers expressed their eagerness to resume travel. Their interest in travel has barely waned, with 70% reporting they continued to travel throughout the lockdowns! The study reveals interest in safaris, European vacations, and other international adventures. Luxury travelers may be ready to disembark, but caution is at the top of their agenda. The data shows ample consideration among high-end passengers for vaccine programs, testing, and destination-related health restrictions.
Peter J. Bates, Strategic Vision President and Founder, says, “The pandemic has constrained affluent travelers, and they’re intent on fulfilling their travel dreams as soon as they’re able.” Flush vacationers appear to be more optimistic than the average trip-taker about when they’ll be able to fly or set sail. The well-to-do also have different travel habits and requirements. They travel in ‘pods’ of family or friends and seek to experience the world in their own way. For them, luxury travel means experiencing destinations on terms tailored to their preferences.
The interest in safe and once-in-a-lifetime experiences they can share with loved ones is at a record high. Upscale travelers are planning an increasing number of international trips in 2021. Atlas Obscura reports 91% of trips booked in 2021 are international versus the previous high of 80% in 2019. Making trips count in 2021 will lead well-off trip-planners to take extra care in getting all the details just right.
Other recent polling suggests 74% of travelers surveyed globally will spend more time choosing a destination. In the United States, 64% of travelers indicated they intend to read more reviews, 63% will explore more accommodation options, and 70% will seek new travel experiences.
The roll-out of vaccines is a game-changer for international traveler confidence. A global passenger survey finds 77% more likely to travel abroad if vaccinated, and 86% will be more inclined to travel domestically. Of those surveyed, 26% would only travel to destinations requiring vaccination before arrival.
The pandemic's effects on the international travel industry will linger into 2021 as luxury travel companies respond with enhanced safety protocols and booking services designed for the era of COVID-19. The best defense remains advanced preparation in the form of travel insurance. Before COVID, most travel insurance policies didn’t cover pandemics, but not the case anymore.
Schengen countries already have embassies with specific insurance requirements before issuing travel visas. In response to the pandemic, an increasing number of other destination countries are mandating visitors to have travel insurance policies that cover COVID-19. For compliance and ease of passage, trusted travel advisors are recommending the security of international travel medical insurance.
With expertise and medical expense coverage for COVID-19 up to $100,000, Point Comfort® plans include benefits for a range of contingencies, including Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation, Emergency Medical Reunion, Return of Minor Child, and Local Burial or Cremation.
Like the Piña Colada Song says, Point Comfort® International Travel Medical Insurance will cut through the red tape and let luxury travelers plan their escape!
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