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Consumer Trends

Consumers remain wary of travel

The summer vacation season is here, but Americans are sticking close to home.
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Photograph: Shutterstock

Summer is usually peak travel season, but this year, a global pandemic has put the brakes on a lot of vacation plans. Things seemed to be looking up as a majority of states lifted restrictions in the past month, but a number are now reclosing restaurants, bars and beaches as coronavirus cases spike. And while the European Union reopened its borders to travelers on July 1, it is pretty much set in banning Americans from visiting its member countries.

Consumers are not that eager to travel very far anyway. In a survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and conducted by Morning Consult, only 44% of Americans said they are planning overnight vacation or leisure travel in 2020. In other years, about 70% of Americans take a vacation, according to OmniTrak (TNS) data, indicating that travel is a long way from pre-pandemic levels.

Of those consumers who are traveling by the end of the year, 68% plan to stay overnight in a hotel—encouraging news for the devastated lodging industry. Although hotel occupancy rates increased from an April average of 24.5% to 44% in late June, according to figures from STR, a data analytics firm that tracks the industry, they are way down from the 74.5% recorded at this time last year.

The AHLA survey revealed that respondents are most interested in going on road trips, attending family events and taking a long weekend somewhere closer to home. Nearly 78% are planning trips of four nights or less and 72% are going on an overnight vacation by car. Air travel was not a top choice: Only 32% plan to fly somewhere on their next vacation. 

But pent-up demand may drive a more positive travel outlook for the future. According to a new survey by Flywire, a digital payment platform, 69% of travelers plan to take off again when the pandemic is over. And for 74% of those consumers, just thinking of traveling again while they were self-isolating kept them going.

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