Travel

American Express Travel Sees an Advanced Bookings Surge

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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, October 5. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

American Express Travel is sending a strong signal of travel’s next phase of recovery. The leisure travel business that handles cardmembers’ vacations, which became the sixth largest U.S. travel agency in 2021, says it is seeing travelers booking trips further out into the future, a sign of confidence that disappeared during the pandemic, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

American Express Travel recorded close to $5 billion in sales last year, a figure roughly 70 percent of its 2019 numbers. But parent company American Express reported that cardmembers’ total and entertainment travel spending finally surpassed pre-pandemic levels in April of this year. Audrey Hendley, the president of American Express Travel, said the company has seen a surge in advanced bookings, noting that the 120-day-plus bookings are up 40 percent for U.S. card members this year, compared to 2019.

Next, a growing number of destinations are aiming to convince short-term visitors to stay longer as digital nomads. Costa Rica is one of them, and Global Tourism Reporter Dawit
Habtemariam delves into the country’s strategy for converting tourists into digital nomads.

Costa Rican officials have admitted that they were slow to recognize the lucrative market. But the country created a visa category for digital nomads in July, which its tourism executives believe enables it to gather critical data for its marketing strategies. Carolina Trejos, the Costa Rica Tourism Board’s director of marketing, said its digital nomad visa holders are largely repeat visitors to the country.

In addition, Costa Rican authorities are targeting remote workers from the United States. Minister of Tourism William Rodríguez said attracting even a small percentage of U.S. remote workers would represent success for Costa Rica.

Finally, flying to London Heathrow Airport will become easier for airlines starting next month after a chaotic summer that made the airport a nightmare for carriers and travelers. Europe’s busiest airport is ending daily passenger caps, a development that provides airlines clarity around their schedule planning, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Heathrow Airport will let the current rules capping the number of passengers at the facility expire at the end of October, Russell writes. Carriers such as Emirates had come out loudly against the passenger caps Heathrow implemented in July as it was grappling with a labor shortage. Russell adds that airlines will be able to avoid the disruptive and expensive last-minute schedule changes that marked the chaotic summer at the airport.

Airlines will be allowed to operate an average of roughly 40 departures and 39 arrivals an hour at Heathrow from October 30 through March 25.

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