The FINANCIAL — IHG Hotels & Resorts, which includes brands such as Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites and Kimpton, reveals new data about the 2020 U.S. summer staycation and the impact on hotel bookings.
Brian Hicks, SVP Commercial and Revenue Management, IHG Hotels & Resorts commented on the findings: “People are as eager as ever to travel, but the pandemic has understandably changed priorities when travelling. With enhanced cleaning measures through our IHG Way of Clean program and more flexible booking policies, people have continued traveling this summer, with many opting for a staycation in the U.S.”
- Home is where the heart is – with international travel restrictions in place this summer, domestic travel was understandably the option of choice, with people choosing to explore closer to home. More than half stayed in hotels within driving distance (300km) of their home, whereas the other half explored further afield within the U.S. 85% of guests also chose to travel to their destination by car.
- The ruralization of travel – During the summer of 2020, the Florida Panhandle made IHG Hotels & Resorts’ top 10 leisure destinations, and West Texas, the Carolina Coast, and Atlanta rose in the rankings too, while big cities dropped down the list.According to Brian Hicks: “With a resurgence of more rural domestic travel, we’ve definitely seen travellers developing a greater appreciation for exploring the small towns and cities in their backyards. This rediscovery of the beauty that can be found in places that may otherwise have been overlooked will likely continue when travel resumes to pre-pandemic levels.”
- A hotel (almost) never sleeps – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the everyday lives of billions of people globally, severely damaging economies and posing the biggest challenge the travel industry has ever faced. Despite many people putting their life on hold and some businesses coming to a halt, for IHG Hotels & Resorts the proportion of business and leisure bookings was similar in June – August 2020 compared to previous years, in part due to due to rooms being booked by housing frontline workers and other emergency services.Brian Hicks commented that: “All around the world, from China to the U.S., we’ve worked closely with various organizations, governments and our hotel owners to assist our first responders and others in need by providing accommodations in hundreds of our hotels globally.”
- Spontaneity is key – With so much uncertainty and regularly changing restrictions, hotel booking lead times have shortened compared to previous years. 63% of bookings happened within 2 days of stay, compared to 39% during the same period last year. IHG Hotels & Resorts introduced flexible booking options such as Book Now, Pay Later to give travelers enhanced peace of mind and the flexibility they need.
- Age is more than a number – The number of 65-year olds and above travelling dropped from 18% in 2019 to 15% in 2020 (March to August). Given the nature of the virus and the recommendations for older populations, unsurprisingly, older guests saw the steepest decline in activity during the peak of COVID-19 in April. Since then, while other age groups have witnessed a steady recovery, it’s much stronger among younger guests (35 years old and below).