Travel & Hospitality

The State of Travel & Hospitality Report: Q4 2021

December 2021

Report summary

COVID-19 concerns and extended cutbacks to business travel continue to hinder the travel industry’s full recovery, even as U.S. borders reopen to international travelers, bookings exceed 2020 numbers and consumer comfort levels with traveling continue to grow.

Key Takeaways

  • The travel industry is rebounding … slowly: COVID-related health concerns, testing and vaccination requirements and confusion over quarantines are all keeping the industry from a full recovery. In 2022 and beyond, travel and hospitality brands will need to help travelers navigate these barriers in order to facilitate a more robust return.
  • Travelers are returning with a new mindset: Leisure travelers now understand that their plans may change at any time. COVID-driven changes like shorter booking windows, a priority on flexibility and even willingness to pay more for reschedulable bookings are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
  • Pandemic-heightened air rage is unsettling airlines and travelers: Nationwide anxiety and political polarization amid a pandemic, paired with air travel’s close quarters and uneven application of guidelines, is creating a worst-case scenario for airlines: 41% of consumers say they’ve traveled less due to concerns about fellow travelers’ behavior.
  • Business travel will never return to pre-pandemic levels: While the return to business travel was always expected to trail leisure, 39% of regular business travelers in the U.S. say they’ll never go on a work trip again. Those who do travel will be guided by new corporate policies and will likely be facing tighter budgets than in pre-pandemic times.


This report uses survey research conducted throughout October and November 2021, among 9,200 respondents from the United States, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom. The “Return to Normal” trend data leveraged weekly surveys of 2,200 U.S. adults.

The interviews were conducted online and the data was weighted to approximate respective populations of adults based on gender, educational attainment, race and region. Topline results from the poll have a margin of error of up to +/-3 percentage points.

About the author

Lindsey Roeschke is a travel & hospitality analyst. Lindsey’s work focuses on behavior and expectations in travel (among other categories), particularly through a generational and cultural lens. In addition to her research and advisory background, Lindsey has more than a decade of experience in the advertising world.