A survey from the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Morning Consult found that only 44 percent of Americans are planning overnight vacation or leisure travel this year. As has been mentioned, road trips, family gatherings and long summer weekends are the most popular vacation options for the summer—and 68 percent of these expectant travelers say they are likely to stay in a hotel in 2020.
Among Americans planning to travel this year, 59 percent expect to take their first overnight trip by the end of the summer. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) are planning an overnight vacation via car over the next five months, and of these, 75 percent expect to drive two or more hours.
On their next overnight trip, 43 percent plan to stay with family and friends, and 39 percent plan to stay in a hotel; only 9 percent plan to stay at a short-term rental such as Airbnb or VRBO, and 5 percent in a camper or RV. Nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) are planning a trip of four days or less, suggesting long weekend trips will be the first vacation travel to return.
About 70 percent of Americans take a vacation in any given year, according to OmniTrak 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, the AHLA's president and CEO. “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.”
Regardless of their future travel plans, respondents were 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.
Across the country, travel ground to a halt in March. Hotel occupancy dropped to just 24.5 percent 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 percent nationwide on June 20, but still far below the 74.5 percent occupancy at this time last year.
As the U.S. prepares to begin the Independence Day weekend, hotel bookings are strongest in beach towns and smaller markets, according to Amadeus, a travel technology provider. But among the top 25 travel markets, only Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Va., has eclipsed 50 percent occupancy.
Rogers urged Congress to continue to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the pandemic, including the travel and hospitality sectors. The industry has laid out a "Roadmap to Recovery" calling on Congress to help hotels retain and rehire employees, protect employees and guests, keep hotel doors open and incentivize Americans to travel again when it’s safe.
The plan includes Congress passing a temporary tax incentive to encourage domestic travel, which would provide a boost to local economies, including hotels, restaurants, and retail stores that rely on business from travelers. According to Morning Consult survey data released last week, Americans widely support a new, temporary federal travel tax credit to encourage people to travel again.
“The hotel industry was the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. We are a major economic driver, supporting millions of jobs and generating billions in tax revenue. Getting our economy back on track starts with supporting the hotel industry and helping them regain their footing,” concluded Rogers.