As we start to think about travel again, I wonder what various parts of the world are going through as they open back up. I’ve just booked my first flight in over a year and a half, so the reality of actually being around strangers again has crept in and scared me a little. I’ve never once shied away from an adventure, but there is just something about traveling for the first time in what seems like forever that has me feeling a bit uneasy.’

Six CEOs in travel shed some much-needed light on the state of travel this summer

Betsy O’Rourke, Chief Marketing Officer, Xanterra Travel Collection

Old Faithful Geyser and Inn from Ground - Andy Austin
Old Faithful Geyser and Inn from Ground – Andy Austin

“We had the highest booking week for all brands in our portfolio last week since March 2020. We are outpacing 2019 bookings for 2021 domestic travel. This includes our Grand Canyon Railway and domestic tours operated by Holiday Vacations, VBT biking vacations and Country Walkers. Our small ship cruise line, Windstar cruises, had the highest number of bookings as well last week for both 2021 and 2022. 2021 bookings are favoring the Caribbean, Tahiti, and Greece. The trend we are seeing is that once people receive their vaccine, they book. The pent-up demand is real. We’ve all been sequestered for a year, and many of our guests have saved money, so the desire to travel along with the funds to pay for it are combining for a swift recovery for our cruise, tour and train brands. Our national park lodges continue to see great demand and we are sold out for most dates throughout the summer and early fall. Given relaxed cancellation policies for so many brands, my advice is book now as availability is diminishing and prices can only go up as demand increases.”

Victoria Cimino, CEO, Visit Williamsburg, Greater Williamsburg, VA


“Visit Williamsburg did something rather unconventional during the pandemic; we launched a $7.6 million advertising campaign in 20 markets in June. The campaign, entitled “Life. At Your Pace.” was created to reignite the region’s marketing presence, grow/enhance brand awareness, and facilitate consumer engagement. Operating under the premise that staying focused on awareness today will assure a competitive position tomorrow, the destination marketing organization achieved performance metrics that far exceed industry benchmarks with more than 80% of users being first-time visitors to the website.

Fast forward to March 2021, hotel occupancy is on-par with 2019 levels, hotel rates are higher than 2019, and attractions are experiencing heavy ticket sales and attendance. Visit Williamsburg remains optimistic that the region will see continued positive growth trends in Q3/Q4 and into 2022.”

Jack Damioli, CEO & President, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO

The Ranch at Emerald Valley

“The Broadmoor is a legendary, historic resort at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs. Spanning 5,000 acres, the property has 784 rooms, suites, and cottages on the main resort campus, and we’re already sold out on many dates this summer. Our wilderness properties, a trio of properties that offer true Colorado experiences like a dude ranch, a mountain top retreat, and a fly fishing camp on a private river, are also selling very well thanks to their focus on outdoor adventures and private cabins. We’re also seeing an increase in bookings for summer because of The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway’s return, which will be reopening after a three-year renovation in May. It’s one of the top tourist attractions in Colorado. Families are very excited to experience the train, as well as the new visitor’s center opening atop Pikes Peak.”

Diane Norton, Tourism Manager, Idaho Tourism

Canoeing in Idaho

Idaho is home to unmatched outdoor recreation, the only International Dark Sky Reserve in the country and the largest designated wilderness area in the lower 48

Idaho Tourism continues to see reasons for optimism for travel in 2021. Thanks to our open spaces and road trip opportunities, Idaho had a strong year in 2020. To date in 2021, we are seeing increased activity and engagement across all our platforms, channels, campaigns, and programs. Our low population, statewide scenic byways, ski resorts, state parks, recreational lakes and rivers, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails and designated wilderness areas make Idaho the perfect destination for recreating safely outdoors and enjoying natural physical distancing. However, as many of our new visitors learn how to recreate safely and responsibly outdoors, Idaho Tourism and other state and federal agency partners, as well as many destinations and recreation areas, are adding messaging to continue to educate and inform travelers on safe and responsible outdoor recreation etiquette and behavior, including Leave No Trace principles, fire safety, pack-it-in, pack-it-out principles, trail etiquette, camping etiquette, and respecting wildlife and special places. Over the last year, Idaho has benefited from our unmatched outdoor recreation opportunities. By safely welcoming new and returning visitors, we are looking forward to an even better year for businesses and communities across our state.”

Stephen Perry, President & CEO, New Orleans & Company, New Orleans, LA

French Quarter by Paul Broussard
French Quarter by Paul Broussard

“New Orleans is heading into spring and summer feeling cautiously optimistic as more and more travelers and hospitality workers become vaccinated. We shifted our standard festival schedule to move marquis events like The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and French Quarter Fest to the fall, more meetings and conventions are planned for the 4th quarter, and our leisure booking windows gradually get longer. Our city has always been the perfect place to blow off steam and after a year of being cooped up at home and isolated, this country is full of steam. We are ready to be the place where people come to hit the reset button after a tough year, we have new hotels including the Four Seasons, new flight options, a new airport, and riverboat cruising is back.”

Matthew Wheeler, Area General Manager, High Peaks Resort (Lake Placid, NY) and Topnotch Resort (Stowe, VT)

High Peaks Resort

“I’m seeing similar trends in the past month at both Topnotch Resort in Stowe, VT and High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, NY. There’s a palpable shift due to the increase in vaccinations and a decrease in restrictions. I expect that booking windows will increase as we are all emerging from this great hibernation and looking to step away from our computers and feel normal again–to walk in nature, or reconnect with family they haven’t seen in a while. Companies have made a lot of new hires in the last year and are looking for ways to help their teams meet in person for the first time. No need for a ropes course, just a physical meeting is the new team building activity. A lot of people have spent more time outdoors in the past year than ever before and are discovering they want more of it.”