According to new consumer research from BVA BDRC and supported by Expedia Group search data, Americans are increasing their intent to travel this summer, a positive indicator for the industry. While U.S. domestic and regional travel searches steadily dropped throughout March and into the first week of April, according to Expedia Group data, search has been steadily climbing over the last month in total volume. Expedia Group data also showed that for domestic travelers who searched within the last month for July trips, there has been an average gain of 20% week-on-week.
According to BVA BDRC, nearly 40% of consumers polled plan to book an accommodation, whether a hotel or vacation rental, within the next three months. In addition, providing clear communication on cleanliness measures should be top of mind for accommodation providers.
Here are points for accommodation partners to consider:
Expedia Group search data shows a nine-point increase from mid-April to mid-May in the number of searches for two-star hotels, with three-, four- and five-star hotel searches down, indicating that lower price points are a factor in booking decisions. This value consciousness is further supported by BVA BDRC research showing a 57% increase from April to June in intent to use an OTA to book a trip, with 73% saying their reasoning is to get the best nightly rate. To meet traveler expectations on price, Expedia Group lodging partners should consider adding flexible rates and promotions to draw attention to their listings.
Travelers Take the Wheel
According to the BVA BDRC survey, more Americans are considering traveling by car this year for their next vacation, up 20% year-on-year. Traveler interest in motorhomes and campervans is also on the rise, while trains, ships and planes are down approximately 25% to 35% from last year. Only 15% of consumers polled plan to book a flight for a trip in the next month, with around one in 10 showing interest within the next one to three months. With drive-to destinations on the rise, lodging partners and vacation-rental property managers should consider marketing strategies to attract customers within a 250-mile radius.
More than half of the BVA BDRC survey respondents are interested in visiting friends and family in the near term, while 47% showed interest in destinations in the mountains or to a lake, likely due to the remoteness and potential ease to social distance responsibly. Sporting activities, both watching and participating, are the least likely trip type compared to their normal and past behavior, with 35% saying they are significantly less likely to plan a trip around one. To increase confidence among travelers planning trips to visit friends and families, Expedia Group partners are encouraged to add refundable rates plans that allow for cancellations or changes without fees.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.