A Different Early-Bird Special: Have Vaccine, Will Travel

“There is a lot of pent-up desire in the elderly and the feeling of living is running out,” said Jeff Galak, professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. “There’s a theory called mortality salience: When you think about your own mortality, behaviors change. We’re going to see upgrades to better cabins on cruise ships and booking better hotels. “

For travelers in the 60s, 70s and 80s, said Conor Goodwin, corporate marketing director for Charlestowne Hotels, the ticking of the clock is another strong motivation to book as soon as a vaccination makes it safe. .

“The over 65s are losing their golden years and naturally they can’t wait to get back there,” he said.

The Bristol Hotel in Virginia, part of Charlestowne’s portfolio, saw the incomes of travelers over 65 increase 179% between December 13 and January 22. The French Quarter Inn in Charleston, SC, which is also operated by Charlestowne, had 11% more bookings from people over 65 between January 10 and 28 compared to December 22 through January 9.

Some older travelers even choose to finally book those expensive dream trips. Fernando Diez, who owns Quasar Expeditions, a luxury cruise operator in the Galapagos Islands, says that in December, when frontline health workers were among the very first Americans to receive vaccines, he saw a wave requests for travel information from doctors and nurses.

As of Jan. 1, however, 70% of its booking requests have come from guests over 65 – in previous years that number was closer to 40%. Most of the requests are for travel from June.

“Most of them say they have been vaccinated and are now comfortable traveling to a destination like Ecuador and the Galapagos,” Diez said. “The vaccination gives them the confidence to get to a remote place.”

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