Travel Leaders' Block and Lovell wary but optimistic: Travel Weekly

AURORA, Colo. — There are some large storm clouds on the horizon, from the war in Ukraine to a possible recession, but executives at the Travel Leaders Network Edge conference at the Gaylord Rockies here believe Americans’ demand for travel will persist.

“I have been in this business a long time. There have always been storm clouds,” said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Network, whether it be stock market crashes, the spread of disease or war. “But what’s interesting is the travel industry continues to grow.”

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Right now, the country is facing inflation to a level it hasn’t seen since the late 1970s or early 1980s, he said while in conversation on stage with John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group. The war in Ukraine continues. The nation is facing a major labor shortage. 

Lovell added to that list: the price of gas, a potential recession.

“But, you know, we have lived through recessions,” Lovell said. “We’ve lived through bear markets. But the one thing that we have never done is have a recession right after consumers not moving, not traveling, for two years. There is no precedent for what we’re going to see.” 

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For more than two years, he said, people stayed home and accumulated wealth, as well as the desire to move.

“Even if we do see the R-word, which I think will happen, will be upon us, but I don’t think it’s going to affect what people want to do,” Lovell said. “And that’s what they haven’t been able to do in two years, and that’s travel.”

Block agreed. He also said that anecdotally, among his friends, many are of the mindset that they aren’t getting any younger, and they don’t want to wait to travel and have experiences.

“I think people are going to go,” Block said. “That’s my personal opinion.”

Lovell also pointed to bookings as an indicator. For the past four weeks, numbers have been above 2019 levels, he said, and 2023 numbers are strong.

“This is a good time to be a travel advisor,” Block said.

Lovell agreed.

“You know, the storm clouds are out there,” he said. “But I’m going to use one bad word which I shouldn’t use — but hell, we made it through a pandemic. How bad can a recession be?”

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