As pandemic-related restrictions ease in the United States, the vast majority of Americans will use the summer/ fall of 2021 to travel. According to the Gensler Research Institute’s U.S. Hospitality Pulse Survey, 70% of people intend to travel before the end of 2021, and 37% plan to take more than one trip. Hotels can look forward to a busy summer and fall, but customers have different expectations in the post-COVID-19 world. So what will all this post-vaccine travel look like, and where will people go?Family First: People are nearly 3x more likely to go on vacation with their families than with friends.
Most (81%) of respondents will be going on trips that include their families this year. Over 1/3 of respondents will visit their friends and families at their homes, perhaps making up for the separation required by pandemic-related lockdowns. Only 16% of respondents will take solo trips, and just 11% of respondents will take trips with both family and friends in the coming months. These getaways likely won’t involve business. Among employed respondents, only 7% have upcoming plans to go on a business trip, 6% plan to go purposefully work somewhere else, and 6% plan to attend a work-related conference.As restrictions around international travel continue, people are prioritizing local trips that will last 1-4 nights.
Local and domestic travel will continue to be the focus of most Americans’ summer/fall plans. Nine in 10 respondents have plans that include overnight stays, with the most common trip length totaling 3-4 days (39%). While we have observed improvements in people’s comfort levels traveling since last summer’s pulse survey, only 1/4 of respondents would currently feel comfortable traveling internationally. However, local travelers still want to venture away from home. Among respondents who will only travel within their state, only 15% plan to go on daytrips, and over half will book hotels for their vacations.
The emphasis on local travel doesn’t preclude the possibility of far-away destinations in the future: more than half of respondents who plan to travel by the end of the year would feel comfortable boarding a plane, and nearly 1/3 of people currently without travel plans would also feel safe taking a flight.
Customers have different expectations in the post-COVID-19 world. Here’s how that might impact hotels:Activities and comforts that grew in popularity during the pandemic are here to stay.
- Access to the outdoors (i.e., private outdoor space, operable windows, outdoor dining)
- Appreciation for outdoor recreation (proximity to hiking/biking opportunities, parks)
- Attention to cleaning/health protocols
- People are ready for indoor dining
- They’re returning to in-person retail shopping
- They’re ready to go back to bars/clubs
For more information about summer/fall 2021 travel — including how people feel about COVID-19 safety protocols and returning to shared amenities — download the full U.S. Hospitality Pulse Survey.
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