Oh, come on!

2021 will be amazing — if we can only get past this nonsense

I wrapped up my personal newsletter yesterday by wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

Tonia Kisliakov, who was evidently not in the holiday spirit, had something to say about that:

"Happy holidays bulls*** to you too!" she replied. "It's Christmas holidays now."

She added, "You Americans are so stupid."

Here we go again.

Oh, it gets even Grinchier. On Friday, one of my readers threatened to sue my nonprofit organization and me. Our crime? My advocates and I helped him get a $3,500 refund — and he didn't like the story I wrote about it.

Come on.

Why are people in such an awful mood?

What is it with these people? Did the pandemic do this? Or is this just how everyone behaves during the "most wonderful time of the year"?

My theory: Yep, the pandemic is terrible. But this feeling that it will never end is driving us all a little crazy. That's especially true of anyone who lives to travel, as I do. 

But there's good news. Next year is going to be awesome — if we can make it past these dark days.

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Yes, we're bouncing back

I don't base this on a hunch. Last month, I called the bottom on the travel industry's pandemic malaise. Looking back, that was an incredibly risky thing to do since we were about to head into the second wave of the pandemic.

But I talk to people about their travel plans every day, and I knew I was right. And guess what? I was.

Just take a look at these lovely bounce curves:

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What it means

This data is from Cortera, a business management platform that tracks about $1.5 trillion in annual business-to-business (B2B) spending across 100 industries.

B2B spending is a primary indicator of financial health because it shows us how businesses pay their suppliers. Cortera tracks data on business spending and whether payments are late.

The data suggests that travel-related businesses are increasing their spending as we head into 2021. In other words, airlines, car rental companies and resorts are more confident than ever in the return of the consumer. 

Some businesses are recovering faster than others

It's an uneven recovery, to be sure.

  • Amusement, gambling and recreation is almost back to normal, with just a 3.4 percent decline from February. But it's above spending levels from a year ago.

  • Restaurants and food service is off 15 percent, which is significant, but nowhere near the almost 50 percent decline in May.

  • Even air transportation is off just 25 percent from a year ago. It was down by almost 70 percent last spring.

  • A dark cloud still hangs over the hotel industry, with spending still down 55 percent. But even the lodging sector is trending upward, albeit more slowly.

These numbers paint an optimistic picture for 2021. Recovery is something economists say is already a reality. Check out those third-quarter bounceback numbers for developed markets (that's us).

Spring is just around the corner

With two efficacious vaccines now being distributed, the gloom of living through the winter with the pandemic could be short-lived. Many people will probably get their shots and call their travel advisors to book a trip somewhere. Spring break, Memorial Day and summer will be busy, busy, busy!

But first, we have to get through this.

I dealt with Kisliakov the same way I deal with anyone who wastes my time with banal arguments: I unsubscribed her from my newsletter without comment. 

For the record, I am an American and I celebrate all the holidays, including Christmas, solstice and Boxing Day. The more the merrier!

And our ungrateful reader who didn't like my journalism? Maybe he was just having a bad day. But if he sues, then next year won't just be better for travel. It will also be entertaining for readers of this newsletter.

Oh, and happy holidays.

Have you gotten the vaccine yet? Do you plan to? If you do, are you planning a trip anywhere? I'd love to get your thoughts. The comments are open. (Please be nice to each other.)

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