More Than Luxury
“Luxury is strong now because it went down the most in 2009 and 2010,” Baltin says. “We’re seeing leisure growth across all segments as the economy rebounds. The thing is, leisure travel never goes away when the economy tanks, it just changes form.” For instance, he points out that Americans have been going on shorter vacations more frequently, which was also the case during the last downturn. “In 2001, people took shorter, less expensive vacations, and then they returned to longer stays a few years later,” Baltin says. “It’s hard to tell if the same thing is happening coming out of this one.”
Baltin says the ability for American travelers to quickly get to where they want to go for a three-day weekend is critical—especially for families.
This may explain why the road trip is on the rise, according to the American Express report, which found 47 percent of vacationers plan to drive to their destination, up from 43 percent in 2013. And while more people overall plan to travel, they will continue to watch their purse strings, with slightly less than half reporting they plan to spend more while on vacation than they did in 2013.
“Smart spending is still the name of the game in 2014,” stated David Rabkin, SVP U.S. Consumer Lending Products, American Express, in the report. “The lessons of the recession are top of mind for Americans, who say they will keep saving and setting financial goals. That said, across income groups, Americans are planning leisure trips and opening their wallets for little things.”
Seeking to capture as much family travel business as possible, Destination recently launched a website of travel packages stocked with family-friendly itineraries. Guests choose from an assortment of year-round itineraries that sample from the local art, culture, and attractions surrounding each of the company’s properties.
“We also make sure that the staff has a local perspective and can provide unique, local experiences to guests,” Sabatier says. Serving up an area’s local amenities like this sells the hotel and destination as an entire package, which to many travelers’ minds, are all one thing anyway.
“That’s why when we’re looking to build a hotel for leisure travelers, we tend to look at the fundamentals of the destination—what is the available market in terms of where will people come from, what are the local amenities,” Baltin says.
He points to downtown Los Angeles as a for instance. “Twenty years ago, downtown L.A. wasn’t a strong leisure destination, and now it’s one of the fastest growing leisure markets in the country,” Baltin says. He notes that the thing holding L.A. back was a lack of amenities. “We worked with the city when they were planning the convention center and hotel, and we told them that they needed an amenity base to go along with it. So they built L.A. Live and now our Saturday night is the best night of the entire week.”