With the summer season heating up, Hotel Business reached out to Mike Flaskey, CEO, Diamond Resorts, for his take on what trends he sees on the horizon and how his company is handling the travel resurgence.
How do you see the summer travel season shaping up? The vacation business is back, and our members, owners and guests are eager to get back to doing what they love. Since vaccinations became more widely available in the U.S. this spring, our resorts have been at or above 2019 levels. Memorial Day was a huge weekend for us and kicked off what is shaping up to be an incredibly strong summer of vacationing.
What destinations will be most popular? Will they be the ones that are traditional major attractions? Hawaii, Orlando, Las Vegas and Mexico have all been especially popular. Drive-to destinations remain in high demand for travelers looking for short getaways. Weekend occupancy rates at our U.S. resorts returned to pre-COVID-19 levels this spring and have remained strong. More than 85% of Diamond Resorts members live within a 300-mile drive to a Diamond property, so it is convenient for families to hop in the car and explore.
Resorts near national parks and other iconic destinations have been some of the first to book up. We are currently offering a National Parks Explorer offer at U.S. resorts from California to North Carolina. Guests can make once-in-a-lifetime memories while hiking the Grand Canyon, biking through Death Valley or watching the sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains. Many of our resorts are just a short drive to some of the most popular parks across the country.
Has the time frame changed for booking travel? We have been seeing our guests booking vacations within a much shorter time frame than normal—in some cases, just days in advance—indicating an eagerness to book post-vaccine trips or take advantage of the spontaneity that the last “work from home” summer provides.
We are also seeing a record number of calls into our booking centers for end-of-the-year travel, showing that our members and owners are eagerly planning the trips they may have missed out on during the 2020 holiday season.
Has what guests are looking for on vacations changed since prior to the pandemic? People are traveling in bigger groups for reunions and booking longer stays after being cooped up for over a year. This is a celebratory moment, and people feel like they are finally able to safely reconnect with friends and family. Our members and owners have always come to us for the unique apartment-style accommodations we offer because many of our suites have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, living rooms, workspaces, fully equipped kitchens and even laundry. People are used to having the comforts of home, and they want those same amenities on their vacations. We give our guests plenty of room to spread out and relax.
Is there anything else you would like to add? We’re known for providing our members with once-in-a-lifetime entertainment experiences, and we’re proud to be one of the first companies to resume intimate live concerts under strict safety protocols. We have an exciting lineup of dozens of #DiamondLIVE concerts planned throughout the summer with country music stars like Lee Brice, Travis Tritt and Cole Swindell.