WASHINGTON—The share of holiday travelers who plan to stay in hotels is up this year, and hotels are the top lodging choice among those certain to travel for leisure in the next three months, according to a new national Hotel Booking Index Survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and conducted by Morning Consult.
AHLA’s Hotel Booking Index (HBI) is a new composite score gauging the short-term outlook for the hotel industry. The one-through-ten score is based on a weighted average of survey respondents’ travel likelihood in the next three months (50 percent), household financial security (30 percent), and a preference to stay in hotels for travel (20 percent). Based on the results of the survey, the AHLA Hotel Booking Index for the next three months is 7.1, or very good.
Moving forward, AHLA plans to release Hotel Booking Index results three times a year:
- In January
- Ahead of the summer travel season
- Ahead of the holiday travel season
The survey found that the share of those who plan to stay in hotels during their holiday travels is rising this year. Thirty-one percent of Thanksgiving travelers plan to stay in a hotel during their trip, compared to 22 percent who planned to do so last year. Twenty-eight percent of Christmas travelers plan to stay in a hotel during their trip, compared to 23 percent who planned to do so last year. Among those absolutely certain to travel for leisure in the next three months, 54 percent plan to stay in a hotel, according to the survey.
Overall holiday travel levels will likely remain flat, however, with 28 percent of U.S. travelers reporting they are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 31 percent likely to travel for Christmas this year—compared to 29 percent and 33 percent, respectively, in 2021.
The survey also found that concerns about COVID-19 are fading among travelers but are being replaced by economic challenges like inflation and high gas prices. Eighty-five percent of respondents reported that gas prices and inflation are a consideration in deciding whether to travel over the next three months, compared to 70 percent who said the same about COVID-19 infection rates.
In a May AHLA survey, 90 percent of respondents said gas prices and inflation were a travel consideration while 78 percent said the same about COVID infection rates.
The survey of 4,000 adults was conducted October 14-16, 2022. Other key findings include the following:
- Fifty-nine percent of adults whose jobs involve travel said they are likely to travel for business in the next three months, with 49 percent among them planning to stay in a hotel during their trip. In 2021, 55 percent of adults whose jobs involve travel said they were likely to travel for business during the holiday season.
- Sixty-four percent of U.S. travelers would be concerned about delays or cancellations if they traveled by plane right now, with 66 percent of these respondents reporting a lower chance of flying this holiday season as a result.
- Sixty-one percent of U.S. travelers say they are likely to take more leisure/vacation trips in 2023 than they did this year.
- Fifty-eight percent of U.S. travelers are likely to attend more indoor gatherings, events, or meetings in 2023 than they did this year.
- Sixty-six percent of Thanksgiving travelers and 60 percent of Christmas travelers plan to drive to their destinations, compared to 24 percent and 30 percent, respectively, who plan to fly.
“This survey bolsters our optimism for hotels’ near-term outlook for a number of reasons,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “The share of holiday travelers planning hotel stays is rising, plans for business travel are on the upswing, and hotels are the number one lodging choice for those certain to travel for leisure in the near future. This is great news for our industry as well as current and prospective hotel employees, who are enjoying more and better career opportunities than ever before.”
To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s 200+ career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multi-channel advertising campaign is now active in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa.