A new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) shows that many Americans are not expected to travel this holiday season. Results show that 72% of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69% are unlikely to travel for Christmas, compounding the challenges for the hotel industry during this public health crisis.
Business travel has been even more impacted. Only 8% of Americans say they have taken an overnight business trip since March and just 19% of respondents who are currently employed—or 8% of all adults—expect to travel for business within the next six months. Sixty-two percent (62%) of employed Americans have no plans to stay in a hotel for business.
The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted November 2-4, 2020 by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. Key findings of the survey include the following:
• Only 3 in 10 (32%) respondents have taken an overnight vacation or leisure trip since March
• 21% of Americans say they are likely to travel for Thanksgiving, 24% are likely to travel for Christmas
• Looking ahead to next year, 24% are likely to travel for spring break
• 44% say their next hotel stay for vacation or leisure travel will be a year or more from now on or they have no plans to stay in a hotel
“This holiday season will be an especially difficult time for all Americans and our industry is no exception” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Fewer people will be traveling and business travel remains nearly non-existent. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to pass a relief bill now. Millions of Americans are out of work and thousands of small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. We cannot afford to wait until the next Congress is sworn in for relief, they need help now.”
“For those who are considering traveling for the holidays, hotels will be ready to welcome you. Through our Safe Stay initiative, hotels have enhanced our already rigorous cleaning protocols to be more transparent and give travelers even more peace of mind,” said Rogers.
The hotel industry were the first to be impacted by the Pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. Hotel occupancy rates partially rebounded from record lows in April, but they have continued to decline since Labor Day. According to STR, nationwide hotel occupancy was 44.4% for the week ending on October 31, compared to 62.6% the same week, last year. Occupancy in urban markets is just 35.6%, down from 71.8% one year ago.
As a result of the significant drop in travel, more than half of hotels report that they have less than half of their typical, pre-crisis staff working full time currently. Without further governmental assistance, 74% of hotels said they would be forced into further layoffs. Business and group travel are not expected to reach 2019 peak demand levels again until 2023. As a result of this sharp drop in traveling demands from COVID-19, state and local tax revenue from hotel operations is estimated to drop by $16.8 billion in 2020.
What Is Being Done To Keep You Safe
According to the national survey a number of improvements to health and sanitation protocol at U.S. hotels would have a considerable impact on guests' comfort levels staying there, with the top three including face coverings for employees (87% a lot/some impact) and guests (85%), suspending daily housekeeping of rooms (86%) and utilizing technology to reduce direct contact (85%); these are the top priorities among frequent travelers staying in hotels during this Pandemic. These priorities align with AHLA’s Safe Stay Guest Checklist and CDC recommendations distributed on behalf of the industry.
Other popular measures to increase a guest’s comfort level include adding transparent barriers at front desks, concierge or valet stations (82%), signage for washing hands, distancing and PPE (80%), temporarily closing amenities (77%) and floor markings to promote social distancing (77%). The overwhelming majority of respondents indicate that these protocols would impact their comfort level with eight out of ten (81%) frequent travelers responding that they feel comfortable staying in a hotel that has implemented the enhanced cleaning and safety protocols called for in AHLA’s Safe Stay initiative.
Among the key findings of travelers staying in hotels for five or more nights per year:
Cleanliness Is the Top Priority: Out of a list of nine options, frequent travelers most often choose cleanliness as the most important factor when determining their next hotel stay, 81% of travelers are more comfortable staying at hotels now with enhanced protocols and standards that are implemented.
Guests Prefer Housekeeping by Request Only: Nearly nine out of ten (88%) frequent travelers say that limiting in-room housekeeping to “by request only” would increase their comfort level. Nearly three-in-five (58%) guests do not want daily housekeeping and 58% would not be comfortable with housekeeping staff entering their room without advanced permission.
The Use of Face Coverings is a Priority: The majority of guests (62%) are a lot more comfortable if hotels require face coverings and 66% of guests are a lot more comfortable if hotels require employees to wear face coverings and gloves.
The Pandemic has decimated the hotel industry as travel has slowed significantly throughout this year. This fall is equally as challenging with only one-third of frequent travelers (33%) expecting their next hotel stay to be within the next three months, 18 percent within three to six months and 25 percent in 6-12 months.
“The hotel industry united to enhance our already rigorous cleaning protocols for the health and safety of our guests and it’s working,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “It’s more important than ever that guests follow our Safe Stay Guest Checklist so they understand what is expected of them no matter where they stay. Travelers across the country looking to include a hotel stay in their upcoming vacation plans, knowing that with the implementation of Safe Stay, hotels will be safer and cleaner than ever before.” You can review the “Safe Stay Guest Checklist” which should make you feel confident and safe during your next hotel stay at: www.ahla.com.