Deloitte: Holiday travel slows

Amid a worsening economic outlook and concerns over travel disruption, Deloitte found travel demand is slowing, with less than one-third (31%) of Americans planning to travel between Thanksgiving and mid-January, down from 42% in 2021, according to the 2022 Deloitte Holiday Travel Study.

Other key findings:

  • Thanksgiving remains the busiest travel time. Of those who plan to travel this season, 15% plan to travel on Thanksgiving weekend, and 14% plan to travel between Christmas and New Year’s.
  • Travel spend remains flat. Of those planning to travel, three out of four plan to spend the same or less than they spent in 2021. This year’s average holiday travel budget (including transportation and lodging costs) will reach $1,287.
  • Concerns over finances and disruption keep some grounded. Of those staying home for the holidays, 37% said financial considerations were the main reason not to travel. Additionally, one in five point to worries over travel disruptions.
  • Despite concern over disruption, intent to fly rises. Nearly half of holiday travelers (46%) plan to take a flight, up from 37% last year. Given the drop in overall travel demand, the share of total Americans taking a flight (14%) will be similar to 2021 (15%). More than a quarter (29%) of holiday travelers plan to fly domestically, and international travel is up seven percentage points from last year.
  • Laptop luggers continue to take advantage of flexibility. Due to flexible work arrangements, 26% of travelers intend to work on their longest trip of the holiday season. Those who do plan to work during vacations continue to take more trips (2.4 vs. 1.6 for disconnectors). Laptop luggers are adding more than a week (eight days) of travel this holiday season due to the ability to work remotely.
  • Lodging companies should prepare for a dip in demand. More than half (59%) of holiday travelers plan to stay with friends or family. Just over a third will stay at a hotel (35%, down from 37% in 2021) and 15% will book a private rental (down from 17%).

Deloitte surveyed 4,986 consumers online between Sept. 6 and 14. From that group, 1,540 respondents who noted they would take a leisure trip this season and stay at paid lodging or with family or friends qualified as holiday travelers.

“Despite facing economic headwinds and highly anticipated travel delays and cancellations, many travelers are destined to make the most of the season,” said Mike Daher, vice chair, Deloitte LLP and U.S. transportation, hospitality and services non-attest leader. “While fewer will travel, those who will take to the roads and skies will likely spend more than last year. In addition, flexible work schedules continue to offer laptop luggers the opportunity to extend trips and experience more on their journeys. As the travel industry prepares for a weaker holiday season, providers who focus on the customer experience and the needs of those who do venture out will be set to shine throughout the holidays and into the new year.”