ATLANTA—’Staycation’ was undoubtedly the travel buzzword of 2020. With travel restrictions limiting people jetting off to far-flung destinations for some of the summer months this year, Americans looked to explore what was on their very own doorstep more so than ever before.
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.
“People are as eager as ever to travel, but the pandemic has understandably changed priorities when travelling,” said Brian Hicks, SVP commercial and revenue management, IHG Hotels & Resorts. “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.”
The findings include:
- 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 (200 miles/300km) of their home, whereas the other half explored further afield within the U.S. Eighty-five percent 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.
“With a resurgence of more rural domestic travel, we’ve definitely seen travelers developing a greater appreciation for exploring the small towns and cities in their backyards,” said Hicks. “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.
“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,” he said.
- Spontaneity is key—With so much uncertainty and regularly changing restrictions, hotel booking lead times have shortened compared to previous years. Sixty-three percent of bookings happened within two days of stay, compared to 39% during the same period last year.
- 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).