INTERNATIONAL REPORT—A survey undertaken by Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) shows that an affluent group of Travel Ready advocates are driving pent-up demand for luxury holidays this year. The survey, conducted in partnership with Liz Hall Hotel & Travel Consulting, looked at the current sentiment toward travel of more than 6,000 members of the luxury brand’s Invited program. The results show a desire to travel this year now that travel restrictions have been slightly relaxed, a willingness to travel internationally by plane and a preference for smaller hotels where the experience can be managed and customized.
The survey results split the recipients into three groups: the Travel Ready, those who have already booked and maybe even traveled taking increased safety precautions in their stride; the Travel Reserved, those who are keen to get away but still cautious about potential risk; and the Travel Reluctant who are unlikely to travel until things have returned to “normal.”
With more than 46% of recipients expecting that they will be in the same position financially next year, it comes as no surprise that more than 30% fall into the Travel Reserved group and are currently planning a holiday in 2021. In North America, 29% are Travel Ready and are planning a holiday before October this year, with an additional 24% looking at getting away in Q4. In total, 74% of respondents said that they were willing to fly, agreeing almost unanimously (93%) to additional health checks at the airport to ensure the safety of all travelers.
Of North Americans surveyed, 43% are initially planning to travel domestically and 38% were prepared for international travel. SLH reservations data for bookings originating from North America since August 1st reflects these numbers, with 42% of reservations for U.S. hotels, primarily in New York State and California. International bookings made in August were mainly for Q4 visits, with top destinations being Sweden and Finland.
In terms of selecting accommodation, more than 90% of recipients stated that they would feel most comfortable in a small hotel, while private residences were also popular.
As expected, location, flexible booking and cleanliness were the most important considerations. SLH has recently launched a Stay Small, Stay Safe program ensuring third-party accreditation for all member hotels with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC). Hotels offering discounts and offers were of least importance to SLH guests.
Richard Hyde, managing director of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, said, “Our members have always shown great resilience and an enduring appetite for travel so it’s encouraging to see that they are Travel Ready, looking at options both close to home and abroad for 2020. Our small hotels are able to offer so many solutions from their location in low-key destinations and neighborhoods, to their versatility to become essentially a private residence. We have established Stay Small, Stay Safe to ensure that our guests can travel with peace of mind, both for themselves and the destinations they are visiting, and to encourage those who are reserved or reluctant to travel that is it safe when the time is right for them.”