By Gregg Rockett
A recent CNN column explores the nature of ‘Revenge Travel’, a buzzword that has gained increasing attention in the media. The article ponders the term’s meaning and congruence relative to the true motivations of the travel market as travel restrictions become relaxed and more countries open to tourism.
With that article as a backdrop, a commentary piece by columnist Mark Footer of the South China Morning Post takes issue with the term ‘Revenge Travel’. He uses the examples of ‘staycation’ and ‘bleisure’ travel as buzzwords that more accurately convey the trends these terms are meant to describe, and he believes a more fitting term should replace ‘Revenge Travel’.
Mr. Footer’s essay resonated strongly as I find the term ‘Revenge Travel’ has not gelled with me since I first heard it last year. The term strikes me as having a dark connotation; a sinister undertone that does not correspond with the sense of euphoria we must be feeling at the prospect of traveling again. In my opinion, the reaction of the travel market at the prospect to roam freely again is not at all vengeful, but rather a fervent embrace of travel reimagined after lost time.
Buzzwords can be good and bad. They can be great in anecdotally compressing a concept into a couple of words or a short phrase. But they can also get overused. I do not think the phrase ‘Revenge Travel’ has yet become the latter, and the industry should not let it reach cliché status. We should put it to rest in lieu of a term that is more compatible with the nature of the pent-up demand for travel that we crave.
To begin with, the elevated demand in the US reported by travel sites is driven mostly by leisure travel. Research by the U.S. Travel Association indicates that U.S. domestic leisure travel spending in 2021 was at 104% of that generated in 2019, while domestic business travel spending in 2021 was less than 50% of 2019 levels. So, what we are seeing is a resurgence in the desire for those fun-loving experiences that traveling offers and to be with friends and family, not a desire to avenge the pandemic and stick it to COVID by booking a holiday because we can.
So, what is the real sentiment, and which is a more worthy catch phrase to describe it? ‘Travel Unhinged’ has a rebelliousness that sounds catchy, but also implies a reckless quality that probably does not fit. ‘Travel Reboot’ provides literal context but seems to lack the stickiness of a buzz word. In my opinion the term should invoke a thrill of being liberated – sprung by the sensation of being Footloose or Walking on Sunshine.
It seems to me that we are all grasping to seize the moment now that restrictions are being relaxed and we can spend the vacation money we have been longing to use. In the interest of matching the sentiment to the buzzword, I submit that a more appropriate label could be ‘Carpe Diem Travel’, one that reflects our delight at being On the Road Again.