Black Friday could spur a travel booking frenzy, with a recent survey conducted by metasearch site Skyscanner indicating that pent-up consumer demand, steep discounts and flexible policies could drive a spike in sales for 2021.
"Black Friday has been a popular time in travel for many years, but we expect this year to be different," Skyscanner U.S. traveler expert Mark Crossey said. "We know there's a lot of pent-up wanderlust, and as news of vaccines nearing readiness has broken, we've seen travelers turn their attention to next year."
In a survey of more than 1,600 Skyscanner customers from the U.S., U.K and Australia, Skyscanner found that consumer appetite for Black Friday travel deals appears higher than normal this year. More than 90% of travelers who said they were actively looking to purchase travel on Black Friday this year didn't purchase any travel as part of Black Friday 2019.
Of these Black Friday deal hunters, 27% reported that they wanted to book a family break, while 22% said they were interested in booking a solo trip.
"We predict that travel might be purchased as a gift for loved ones," said Crossey. "Another trend we see is the treat-yourself trend. Many of us have had a difficult year, and a vacation could be a well-deserved gift to ourselves."
The poll also showed consumers have a relatively positive feeling toward the prospect of international travel, with 35% stating they would take a short-haul trip abroad and 30% saying they wanted to purchase a long-haul trip abroad.
In terms of travel spend, the survey indicated that the sweet spot for most Black Friday shoppers was between $201 and $500 per person.
According to Michael Coletta, manager of research and innovation for Phocuswright, Black Friday could prove to be "a very good time to lock in travel for the second half of 2021," thanks in part to this year's trend toward flexible booking dates and no cancelation penalties.
Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, for example, recently unveiled a series of Cyber Monday deals, offering up to 50% off of select 2021 private itineraries while also granting travelers the ability to cancel or change a booking for any Covid-19-related reasons up to 15 days prior to departure.
Likewise, Club Med recently announced a Black Friday flash sale, sweetening an offer for 60% off stays at its Mexico, Florida and Caribbean resorts through July 2, with up to $600 in air credit and free cancellations up to 15 days prior to departure for travel.
Some hotels offering Black Friday specials for bookings into 2021, including Boston's Hotel Commonwealth and Burlington, Vt.'s Hotel Vermont, are allowing travelers to cancel their bookings up until the day of arrival.
Meanwhile, Skyscanner's Crossey reports that American travelers, in particular, are proving eager to get a future trip on the books.
"Although our search and booking volumes aren't currently at the level of recent years, we are seeing some positive growth in the U.S.," he said. "American travelers have been very engaged with the changing restrictions on travel in 2020 and are keen to get away safely within official guidance. We expect many of the purchases on Black Friday will be for trips not taken in 2020, as people prepare to head out into the world again in 2021."