What a difference a year makes! Since vaccinations for Covid-19 started in late February of this year, the light at the end of the tunnel got closer and brighter. Now that more than 50% of Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, people are more confident about traveling and going out. Many states are also ending their mask mandates. So with that, we wanted to highlight five signs that travel is back.
Airports Are Busy
It wasn’t too many months ago that most major airports were nearly empty. Security lines were short, parking was easy, and the middle seats on flights were empty. Well, that is no longer the case. Several airports have had record-breaking traffic in recent weeks, especially with vacation travel on the rise. This will continue to increase when more business travel resumes in the fall. TSA regulations will still require travelers to wear masks in airports as well as on flights until September 2021. Of course this could change if Covid conditions improve. Due to staffing and supply shortages, some airport bars and restaurants may be closed or very crowded. The few fast food restaurants that are open may have very long lines. If you plan to pick up a snack and drink at a gift shop, the lines are long as well, so plan accordingly.
Airlines Are Adding Flights
Ahead of spring break travel and the return of live events, many airlines have started to add more flights to their schedule. In advance of the Super Bowl, Southwest Airlines added direct flights from Kansas City International Airport (MCI) to Tampa Bay. Jet Blue will be adding direct flights From Kansas City to Boston Logan Airport (BOS) and JKF Airport (JFK) in New York City in 2022. On May 2, TSA said it screened nearly 1.6 million travelers. That is compared to 170,000 on the first Sunday in May in 2020. Many of these new routes are catering to the booming leisure travel sector. Travel is back in a big way when you see so many more flights being offered to popular destinations, especially close to major tourist attractions and state and national parks.
Rental Cars Are Scarce And Expensive
During the worst months of the pandemic, rental car agencies were hit the hardest. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles were sold off as quickly as possible. But the tides are turning since travel is back. After filing bankruptcy in May 2020, Hertz recently announced a plan that would allow it to exit Chapter 11. In the past, renting a car was an afterthought. Well nowadays, there is a severe shortage of rental cars, check in lines are long and rates are sky high. In some cases, rental rates have more than doubled. Plus with the current computer chip shortage needed to build new cars, this problem is projected to continue well into 2022. As a result, travelers are relying more on chauffeured car services to get to and from the airport, as well as to hire for their daily activities and tours.
No Uber or Lyft Drivers Available
The pandemic impacted transportation services and the rideshare industry like never before. But now that travel is back, there is a severe shortage of Uber and Lyft drivers which has caused long waits for rides and much higher fares. Even if a rider got their ride accepted, they are often being cancelled on by the driver. Many rideshare drivers do not plan to come back as they have moved on and realized that being a gig worker is not all it’s cracked up to be. They often worked long hours for what amounted to less than minimum wage pay. As a result, chauffeured car services are finding that many new and existing customers are calling more frequently for services they might have been using Uber and Lyft for. And as these clients come back, they are realizing how much safer, more professional and reliable limo services are.
Chauffeured Car Service Is Booming
With more people traveling again, the demand for airport car service is increasing rapidly. Travelers are still concerned about safety and reliability and trust the professional level of service that chauffeured transportation companies offer. And since many chauffeured car services like Overland also offer SUV’s, Vans, Shuttle Buses and Motor Coaches, they can cater to a wide variety of travelers and tour groups. Even individuals that would not normally hire a car service are doing so because they do not want to wait on an Uber or Lyft or don’t want to mess with the long lines at car rentals. The higher prices for both rideshare and rental cars are making limousine services much more appealing. Since travel is back, chauffeured car services are back on the road again in a big way.
Other Signs That Travel Is Back
There are other signs that travel is back and demand is surging. Cruise lines are resuming business as early as July if they meet CDC guidelines. Hotel occupancy is estimated to increase from 41% to 52% in 2021 and to 66% in 2022. This could increase if business travel comes back at a faster pace. And there are dozens of new luxury hotels opening in 2021 That said, the CEO of Airbnb recently stated that they will need millions of new hosts to meet surging demand in the coming months. Some of the most popular vacation destinations for Airbnb are south Florida, Gulf Shores, AL the Smoky Mountains and Puerto Rico. And daily rates for both hotels and Airbnb’s will also rise. Another encouraging sign is that travel groups are booking motor coaches for multi-city tours.
Challenges With Surging Demand For Travel
The biggest challenge for the travel and hospitality industry is getting employees to return to work and hiring additional staff. It may be difficult throughout the summer with enhanced federal unemployment pay still in place and kids out of school. Supply chain disruption due to Covid-19 has also impacted restaurants and hotels dramatically, causing food prices especially to skyrocket. Businesses of all kinds in the travel and hospitality industry are doing all they can to ramp back up and meet the surging demand for travel.
Are You Ready To Start Traveling Again?
It is exciting to see that millions of people are starting to travel again for leisure and business trips. And planning international trips for later this year and early next year. Wherever you are headed, Overland Chauffeured Services is ready to serve you. Our award-winning services are available throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area and in over 350 cities worldwide. Call or Text us at 913-381-3504 or Email us today! We look forward to serving you!