Households are over the COVID-19 pandemic (even if the pandemic is not officially over), and it's beginning to show ahead of the peak summer travel season.
In a new American Express survey, 74% of respondents said they are willing to book a trip for this year even if they might have to cancel or modify it later. Roughly 74% of those surveyed said they plan to spend more on domestic travel this year versus 2021 while 64% said they intend to go overseas for a vacation.
"I think what we have is a case of two years of people not being able to travel the way they wanted to travel," Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel said on Yahoo Finance Live recently. "At the same time, they built up their savings. At the same time, it's not easy to buy a lot of things you'd like because of supply chains. So let's say you want to buy a new car. Well, it's not so easy getting new cars sometimes right now. So they say, 'Let's go and travel.'"
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky also hyped up the summer travel boom on Thursday after it was revealed that the company ramped up hiring: “More people are going to travel this summer than we think we’ve ever seen,” Chesky said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above).
With that in mind, here are three travel companies gaining noticeable momentum as the summer travel season rolls around:
Arguably, the real story of Disney's most recent quarter was not new additions to the Disney+ streaming service, but rather the building momentum behind the company's theme parks.
Disney's parks segment beat analyst estimates for sales and profits in the first quarter. Sales at the parks business more than doubled to $6.65 billion and operating profits for the segment clocked in at $1.75 billion, compared to a $406 million loss a year ago.
For those on Wall Street making recession calls, here's a fun fact mentioned by Disney executives on the earnings call: Per capita spending at parks surged 40% compared to a similar period in 2019, led by ticket sales, food, and merchandise.
That growth is very likely to strengthen as the summer kicks into high gear.
The world's largest cruise line operator now has all of its ships back in the water and is whisking vacationers away to various destinations (except Russia).
Carnival CEO Arnold Donald told Yahoo Finance Live that pricing for cruises has been strong, suggesting consumer demand has been brisk.
"Generally speaking, pricing is stronger than what it was, say, back even in the 2019 pre-COVID period," Donald said. "But you are not going to see the same level of price increases that you have seen in some other sectors of the economy and some other sectors of travel and leisure. But pricing is at this point strong, and we expect it to continue to be."
The long-time CEO, who is moving to a vice-chairman role in August after steering Carnival for the past nine years, added that onboard spending has been up, too.
"We have fantastic occupancy," Donald said. "People are having a great time. Carnival is doing very, very well."
3. Six Flags
Not to be outdone by larger theme park operators in the first quarter, Six Flags also showed a healthy recovery in its business prior to the summer months.
Park attendance in the first quarter surged 25% from a year ago to 1.7 million people. During the same period, total guest spending per capita rose 34% to $75.46.
"The increase in in-park spending per capita was driven by a robust consumer spending backdrop and also by a higher mix of single-day visitors, who tend to spend more in our parks on average than our seasoned pass holders and members," Six Flags CFO Sandeep Reddy said.