WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) found that 44 percent 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. Of these expectant travelers, 68 percent say they are likely to stay in a hotel in 2020.
The poll—which Morning Consult conducted online among a national sample of 2,200 adults from June 16-19—found that among Americans planning to travel in 2020, 59 percent expect to take their first overnight trip by the end of the summer. Summer road trips will take center stage, with 72 percent planning an overnight vacation via car over the next five months. Of these, 75 percent expect to drive two or more hours: 35 percent plan to drive between two to four hours, and 40 percent plan to drive more than four hours.
On their next overnight trip, 43 percent plan to stay with family and friends, and 39 percent plan to stay in a hotel; 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 first vacation travel to return.
The majority of those planning to travel in 2020 expect to take a day trip (81 percent) and 72 percent expect to take an overnight vacation via car within the next five months. Fewer expect to take cruises (14 percent), camper/RV trips (28 percent), or vacations via plane (32 percent) in 2020.
Of those planning travel in 2020, 55 percent plan to travel for a family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, or family reunion; 50 percent plan to travel for Christmas, 43 percent for Thanksgiving, 33 percent for July 4th, and 30 percent for Labor Day.
About 70 percent 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 and 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.”
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 comprised 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. 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,” said Rogers.
Across the country, travel ground to a halt in March. Hotel occupancy dropped to 24.5 percent among open hotels nationwide in April, the lowest occupancy for any month on record in the United States, according to STR. Since then, hotel occupancy has continued to tick up slowly, reaching 43.9 percent nationwide in the third week of June, but still far below the 74.5 percent occupancy at this time last year.
Moving into the July 4th 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 percent occupancy.
Rogers urged Congress to continue to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the pandemic, including the travel and hospitality sectors. AHLA 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 Roadmap includes Congress passing a temporary tax incentive to encourage domestic travel, intended to 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, most Americans 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.