Tracking the Trends at Baxter Media’s Airline and Tourist Board Event

The overall message from Baxter Media’s airline and tourist board managers networking lunch yesterday at the Chelsea Hotel was that travel is back with a vengeance.

Although there was already “a very aggressive rebound in 2022” amongst Canadian travellers, Dan Keon, vice president, marketing & insights at Allianz Global Assistance, shared that travel truly started booming after restrictions fully lifted.

“2023 is the year we’re seeing that full ramp up,” he said, “There’s a strong sense of revenge travel — so people who have been thinking about travel, dreaming about travel for years literally during the pandemic, couldn’t wait to get out there — now are taking some of those real bucket list trips and that’s being reflected in the spend.”

Matt Anstett, director, eComm & travel channel and Tayjua Squire, manager, corporate communications at Allianz Global Assistance, joined Keon on stage to share insights and findings on customer travel intensions from recent Allianz Global Assistance data and survey results to the audience of 80 plus airline and tourist board managers.

“Canadians were anticipated to spend over 14 billion on travel based on the findings in our survey, which was the highest amount we had seen since we started running this survey in 2016,” Keon shared.

Despite looming concerns for a potential recession, he noted that Canadians are also prioritizing travel.

“Another finding, that isn’t really surprising to be honest, is the fact that Canadians felt that travel insurance was more important than ever before,” he added. “I think, if the pandemic did anything, it made people realize how quickly things can change and how unpredictable travel can be.”

Compared to findings from Americans, he shared that Canadians were more confident to travel this year.

Meanwhile, Anstett pointed out that travellers are planning ahead and buying insurance earlier.

“This is actually driven by younger people, some of those millennial groups. Older travellers have always planned well ahead,” he said. “They’re thinking about travel protection more coming out of the pandemic. They are planning not just their trip but all the elements of their trip a lot earlier than they were prior to the pandemic.”

Notably, the event was planet and people positive thanks to a partnership with Trees4Travel.

“Reforestation is one of the most powerful actions we can take today. By growing trees, we will not only help to draw down carbon from the atmosphere, but we will also help to restore biodiversity, ecosystems and support indigenous communities,” noted Fiona A Barclay, vice president North America, for Trees4Travel. “The first 10 years of a regular hardwood tree absorbs 164KG of CO2. We calculate a trip’s CO2 emissions using DEFRA and GHG protocols and translate that CO2 number into trees. It’s simple, tangible, and impactful.”

Based on the registration data, Trees4Travel measured the projected target emissions from the event and calculated that nine trees would need to get planted to compensate for those emissions.

“One tonne of CO2 emissions is compensated right away through UN Certified Carbon Credits and the planting of nine trees, making a difference over the next 10 years and beyond,” she said.

Baxter Media president David McClung shared that similar events for airline and tourist board members were held pre-pandemic.

“It was held at the Boulevard Club with great success and we wanted to bring it back. Allianz has great research that we wanted to share,” he said. “The research from Allianz shows that travel is back. Canadians are travelling in full swing!”

Representing the Toronto Star, another sponsor of the event, was Laura deCarufel, the editor-in-chief of The Kit, who also outlined some interesting travel trends.

“Cruising is hugely back,” she shared. “The forecast predicts there will be 31.5 million passengers cruising so we’re covering that a lot. We see that that’s something that’s important to our audience.”

Interestingly, she highlighted that traditional destinations are resonating with readers.

“It’s travel to the States, Italy, France, Portugal, classic destinations, Japan is another one,” deCarufel said. “And third is obvious, and hopefully very exciting for all of us, that travel is back. Canadian purchases for flights are exceeding pre pandemic levels and are higher than they were even in 2019. So that’s wonderful news.”

Dharmesh Dayabhai, the co-founder of Resiada, also gave insights into the cloud-based room block management platform that allows event and housing managers to manage their room blocks better.