Travel Businesses Are Booming Once Again, Square Data Finds
Merchants are rising to the challenge to meet crowds and increased demand through the summer season
It’s been a busy – but welcome – summer for travel-focused businesses, who are seeing consumers return to travel with fervor after two years of pent up demand, with no sign of slowing down.
So far, gross payment volume (GPV) is up in various travel-related sectors, like travel agencies and tour operators with a 17% lift, followed by tourism businesses with a 4% increase for merchants like ferry services and helicopter tours. To prepare for this travel boom, businesses across Square hired more employees as team sizes have increased 8% year-over-year.*
Square analyzed sales across the United States to uncover how travel trends are shaping up this year compared to last.
Popular experiences take shape
Consumers are keeping active during their much needed time off. Food-related experiences have seen the biggest draw as demand for cooking classes spiked 72% and food tours are up 51%. Similarly, concert ticket sales increased 48% and boat tours are up 37%. Merchants who offer wine tours have seen an 8% increase in demand, while snorkeling has also increased by 4%. When looking at where these activities are most popular, cooking classes are most popular in New York, NY, food tours in Atlanta, GA, and boat tours in Miami, FL.
“Demand for wine tours has been overwhelming and our business continues to see growth every year since COVID,” said Tyler Jackson, Owner of Napa Native, a tour operator in Napa, CA, who uses Square Invoices to quickly send out batch invoices. “Consumers are excited to be out and about again after sitting inside for so long. We’ve also seen an increase in our wine and wellness packages where we combine a half day of an outdoor activity like hiking followed by wine tasting as recreation tourism has become more popular.”
Outdoors remain a key draw
While camping skyrocketed during COVID due to restrictions and lockdowns, consumers are continuing to bask in the outdoors for summer travel. Campsite rental sales have nearly doubled since last year, while the average price is down 38%. For those looking to couple the great outdoors while being budget-conscious, camping might be the way to go.
RV campsite demand is also up 30% with the average price increasing 25%.
Travel items increase in demand
Much needed travel items are flying off the shelves for any and all adventures planned. While many of these items are seeing price increases year over year, some items that were high in demand last year such as disinfecting wipes are seeing price reductions as supply recovers. Merchants’ top selling travel items this year include:
- Travel pillow: Sales up 60%, price up 10%
- Water bottles: Sales up 17%, price up 7%
- Sunscreen: Sales up 17%, price up 5%
- Suitcases: Sales up 10%, price up 3%
- Compression socks: Sales up 10%, price down 8%
- Disinfecting wipes: Sales up 6%, price down 19%
- Backpack: Sales up 2%, price up 14%
Summer fashion booms
Along with retail items, consumers are filing their wardrobes with new clothing for their upcoming travels. Sales are on the rise for the following:
- Midi skirts: Sales up 18%, price up 14%
- Straw hat: Sales up 15%, price up 7%
- Denim jackets: Sales up 11%, price up 22%
- Sunglasses: Sales up 5%, price up 5%
- Bathing suits: Sales up 5%, price down 11%
- Dresses: Sales up 4%, price up 18%
Best of the rest
Airport pickups are up 27% as consumers opt to ride in style and can expect to pay 26% more for this service, averaging $124. Given concerns around gas prices and limited supply, rental cars have seen a decrease in demand, compounded with a 23% increase in price. Taxi services are up 29%, while bike rentals have seen a decrease in price by 41%, representing a budget-friendly mode of both sight-seeing and transportation during vacation.
Since many consumers welcomed furry friends during COVID, pet boarding services have also seen a spike as travelers accommodate pets while away from home. Merchants in this industry have seen an 84% increase in demand, while consumers can expect to pay around $37 per day to board their companions.
“Since people are back to traveling, we’ve definitely seen an increase in our pet boarding services,” said Abby Cerniga, Owner and Dog Trainer of Plush Bark in Garland, TX who uses Square Invoices so customers can easily and quickly pay at home after returning from vacation. “Since last year, we’ve mainly seen an uptick in pet boarding services over the weekends as people take off for extended weekends away from home.”
What will August and September look like?
Businesses might be wondering what else to expect for the summer travel season. Based on data in August and September of last year, consumers prioritized relaxation and wellness, with demand for massages up 43% and facials up 51% compared to the year before.
What will be the hot drink of the summer? So far, more consumers are looking for non-alcoholic drinks as mocktail orders are up 7%, representing an opportunity for food and beverage merchants to diversify their drink menu to attract more customers. Will last year’s popular drinks of August and September retain their momentum this year? If so, businesses can expect customers to order hard seltzers, micheladas, and irish creams.
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Data compares payment transactions within the US between May - July 2022 vs May - July 2021.
*Year-over-year comparison as of June 2022