With holiday travel just around the corner and the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions across the globe, people are increasingly ready to book big holiday vacations. Pandemic fatigue has motivated travelers to get out and explore new destinations. As Valerie Ross, vice president of revenue at Avocet Hospitality, explains, “We have seen a very active summer, even with the Delta variant, and we expect that trend to continue throughout the holiday season. Pandemic fatigue is real and people are more ready than ever to see their friends and family and experience the normalcy and joy that comes from the holiday season.” Based on booking trends she is seeing across Avocet’s portfolio, Ross shared three travel predictions for this upcoming holiday season.
More Pent-Up Demand
Overall, Ross expects more demand this holiday season. “While restrictions may discourage some people from traveling, all of Avocet Hospitality’s hotels are currently ahead of pace for both Thanksgiving and Christmas week with some being over double the number of reserved rooms on the books than the same time last year, and new bookings are not slowing down. Based on what we are seeing, there is definitely still pent-up demand for travel.”
Ross observes that travelers are planning upcoming holiday trips further out compared to the trend of last-minute bookings that the industry has seen over the course of the pandemic. “In the last 30 days, Avocet Hospitality’s hotels (The Read House in Chattanooga, Tennessee; The Vendue in Charleston, South Carolina; and Tides Folly Beach in South Carolina) saw a 99 percent increase in the average lead time for bookings over the last year.”
Shifts in the Busiest Days
“For Thanksgiving week last year, the busiest day for Avocet Hospitality’s hotels was Friday. However, Thursday and Saturday also saw high occupancy numbers. Looking at the current booking trends for this year, we anticipate that our properties should sell out all three of those nights,” Ross explains. “From Christmas to New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve is always the busiest night. We nearly sold out the night last year and anticipate that we will sell out again this year, especially with increased demand from people who did smaller celebrations in 2020, but with vaccinations are more comfortable participating in a larger celebration or traveling with friends and family to celebrate.”