Spring Break Travel Trends Help Businesses Prepare for Summer 2021

With Memorial Day Weekend behind us, Summer 2021 will soon be in full swing — but what does “full swing” look like in 2021? The coronavirus pandemic is still a concern for many consumers, but with more and more people getting vaccinated and mask mandates easing across the country, it’s possible that many businesses that typically rely on summer crowds may soon see a shift toward normalcy. That means that businesses across travel, hospitality, retail, dining and other industries need to be preparing: from inventory planning to staffing, to marketing efforts and everything in between.

To help businesses prepare for this upcoming summer, Foursquare took a closer look at foot traffic data from Spring Break (late February through the end of April 2021), and pulled out key trends and insights that can help businesses across all industries predict where consumers are likely to go and how they will behave throughout the summer months.

Here are four takeaways from Foursquare’s Spring Break analysis:

  1. Will people travel near or far? During Spring Break, hotels, resorts, restaurants and nightlife spots in major travel destinations like Orlando, Las Vegas and Phoenix saw a majority of traffic from locals vs. tourists. We predict that while some people will start to travel to more distant destinations, many will continue to travel locally or within driving distance to avoid crowded planes and airports — as well as the rising ticket costs. Overall, expect a mix of local travelers and distant tourists at summer hotspots.
  2. Do we still love the great outdoors? Foot traffic to most outdoor destinations has remained elevated since the start of the pandemic, while visits to indoor entertainment and crowded outdoor venues such as casinos, theme parks, and sports stadiums has been slower to recover. Outdoor destinations such as beaches, golf courses, and National Parks saw a notable uptick in foot traffic during Spring Break while visits to casinos, theme parks and nightlife spots continued to steadily rise. Based on this early trend, we expect that beaches, golf courses, and parks will still be popular, but be on the lookout for more indoor-activities to pick back up as mask-wearing rules relax and even more people get vaccinated.
  3. Will people brave the crowds at theme parks? Notoriously crowded and full of long lines, many theme parks remained closed throughout the pandemic. But over Spring break, 14% of people in Orlando during Spring Break visited Walt Disney Parks & Resorts during that time, while nearly 6.5% visited Universal or SeaWorld Parks during that time. This suggests that we could soon see people flocking to theme parks in greater numbers in search of outdoor fun – despite the possibility of crowds.
  4. Return of the resort. While Summer 2020 saw a huge resurgence in camping and RV rentals, Spring Break tourists in Phoenix may have indicated what the entire country can expect in Summer 2021: the return of the resort. Indeed, tourists in Phoenix were more likely to book resorts & hotels over campgrounds & RV parks during Spring Break – which suggests the camping craze may start to wane as more people pick luxury and comfort over the great outdoors.

One thing is for sure – Summer 2021 is going to look a lot different than Summer 2020. Though the world may not yet be back to “normal,” consumers are already showing their desire to take vacations and enjoy the leisure and entertainment activities they could not participate in last summer. Foot traffic trends can help businesses adapt to such shifts in consumer behavior and prepare appropriately – whether that means amping up advertising to try and attract travelers or make sure they’re stocked up on beach essentials.

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