WASHINGTON—A survey conducted by Morning Consult, commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), found that only 44% of Americans are planning overnight vacation or leisure travel in 2020, with high interest in road trips, family events and long weekends over the summer months. Encouragingly, 68% of these expectant travelers say they are likely to stay in a hotel in 2020.
Among Americans planning to travel in 2020, 59% expect to take their first overnight trip by the end of the summer. Summer road trips will take center stage, with 72% planning an overnight vacation via car over the next five months. Of these, 75% expect to drive two or more hours.
On their next overnight trip, 43% plan to stay with family and friends, and 39% plan to stay in a hotel; just 9% plan to stay at a short-term rental such as Airbnb or Vrbo, and 5% in a camper or RV. Nearly eight in 10 (78%) are planning a trip of four days or less, suggesting long-weekend trips will be the first vacation travel to return.
Key findings among those planning to travel in 2020:
- What kind of travel they’re planning: 81% expect to take a day trip and 72% expect to take an overnight vacation via car within the next five months. The overwhelming majority do not expect to take cruises (14%), camper/RV trips (28%), or vacations via plane (32%) in 2020.
- How far they’re traveling: Among those planning a vacation via car, 75% plan to travel two or more hours (40% plan to drive more than four hours, and 35% plan to drive two to four hours).
- Where they’re staying: On their next overnight trip, 43% say they will stay with family or friends, 39% in a hotel, 9% in a short-term rental and 5% in a camper/RV.
- How long they’re staying: 78% are planning trips of four nights or less.
- Why they’re traveling: 55% plan to travel for a family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary or family reunion; 50% plan to travel for Christmas, 43% for Thanksgiving, 33% for the 4th of July and 30% for Labor Day.
About 70% of Americans take a vacation in any given year, according to OmniTrak (TNS) data—suggesting that travel is a long way from pre-COVID-19 levels.
“Travel is by no means back yet, but we are encouraged to see people begin to travel as their communities reopen, and we all learn to navigate this new normal,” said Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA. “If you are thinking about traveling in 2020, my message to you is that hotels are clean and safe places, and we are ready to welcome you when you’re ready to travel. Through our Safe Stay initiative, we’ve enhanced our already rigorous cleaning protocols to be more transparent and give you even more peace of mind.”
By a wide margin, Americans planning trips in 2020 will travel by car and stay either at family/friend’s house or a hotel.
Here are the results from key questions in the survey:
Thinking about your future travel plans, please indicate the timeframe in which you expect to do each of the following: Go on an overnight vacation via…
Thinking about your future travel plans, please indicate the timeframe in which you expect to do each of the following:
AHLA recently launched Safe Stay, the industry’s initiative focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19. The Safe Stay guidelines were created by an advisory council composed of leaders from all segments of the hotel industry in accordance with CDC best practices. Safe Stay provides direction on employee and guest health, employee responsibilities, cleaning products and protocols and physical distancing and will be revised as needed based on the recommendations of public health authorities, in compliance with any federal, state and local laws.
“Cleanliness and safety have been at the core of our industry since its beginning,” said Rogers. “Safe Stay is an industry-wide commitment to our top priority—the health and safety of guests and employees. With the implementation of Safe Stay, hotels will be cleaner than ever before. As we see leisure travel slowly and safely resume, hotels are focused on establishing greater transparency and confidence throughout the entire guest experience, representing a new level of focus and transparency for an industry already built on cleanliness.”
Regardless of their future travel plans, respondents were also asked about their interest in and comfort level with different types of accommodations. Would-be travelers expressed high interest in and comfort with hotels, and less interest and comfort in cruises and short-term rentals:
Regardless of whether you are planning to travel soon or not, how interested, if at all, are you in the following? And, regardless of whether you’re planning to travel soon or not, how comfortable would you be, if at all, staying in the following types of accommodations?
Across the country, travel ground to a halt in March. Hotel occupancy dropped to just 24.5% among open hotels nationwide in April, the lowest occupancy for any month on record in the U.S., according to STR. Since then, hotel occupancy has continued to tick up slowly, reaching 43.9% nationwide on June 20, but still far below the 74.5% occupancy at this time last year.
As we enter the 4th of July weekend, hotel bookings are strongest in beach towns and smaller markets, according to Amadeus, a travel technology provider. Among the top 25 travel markets, only Norfolk/Virginia Beach has eclipsed 50% occupancy.