After more than a year of containment, 76% of North American consumers plan to travel within the next six months. According to a new survey from Oracle Hospitality, 24% of people in the United States and Canada plan to travel immediately, 31% in one to three months and 21% by the end of the year.
People largely travel to the region, but venture further from home. Domestic travel will represent 61% of travel plans (compared to 44% last year); 19% of people will stay within driving distance (vs. 47% last year) and 20% will go abroad (vs. 10% last year). Beaches (39%) and national parks (16%) are the preferred destinations. Regardless of location, 77% noted that a COVID-19 vaccination is very or important enough to give them peace of mind when traveling. When it comes to getting on a plane, 18% don’t feel safe until they’re fully immunized.
Last year, travelers worried most about navigating uncertainty with flexible cancellation and refund policies for hotels. This year, it’s all about experience. To beat off the competition for short-term real estate rentals, hoteliers are offering extensive services ranging from package tours to new dining options. The majority of hotel executives surveyed (72%) explore non-room revenue opportunities. And consumers are all concerned, with 68% indicating that they are very or somewhat interested in purchasing products or experiences in their hotel beyond the room.
“The pandemic has had a profound impact on the hospitality industry and continues to redefine the future of travel,” said Alex Alt, SVP / Managing Director, Oracle Hospitality. “The good news is that travel is on the rise and consumers are excited to come back to the world. However, they have new and evolving expectations for what that experience will look like. Hoteliers are taking on the challenge of not only delighting guests with a great stay, but also offering services to increase revenue and compete in the growing short-term rental market.
The survey results are based on responses from 4,467 global consumers and 537 hotel executives (including 773 people and 160 hoteliers in North America).
Spend Beyond the Room
After a year of savings on lost vacations, travelers have expressed their willingness to spend for an unforgettable experience. The main services that consumers have already purchased or wish to purchase in a hotel:
- food from a hotel restaurant (92%)
- drinks from a hotel bar (82%)
- takeaway or delivery (83%)
- visit or activity (79%)
- tickets to an event (68%)
- an extended stay (77%)
- wellness or fitness services (63%)
- subscription to hotel services (53%)
- use a hotel as a temporary office space (39%)
Pandemic priorities have become permanent practices
The survey shows that the features and equipment that became a necessity during the pandemic will be the norm and the desire to move forward:
- 76% of hoteliers offer contactless payment options, 36% self-service check-in, 59% digital messaging services to limit interactions between staff and guests and 42% room keys on smartphones.
- 67% of travelers hope that the increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection procedures will remain the norm in hotels.
- 55% of consumers still want guest areas / public spaces to be designed for social distancing.
- 11% of consumers plan to dine only through room service to minimize contact.
However, 30% plan to dine in hotel restaurants and 48% plan to do both.
Being stuck at home has changed the way consumers think about vacations and what is most critical in terms of space and amenities:
Rents on the rise:
- 54% of travelers said they plan to stay in a short-term rental property within the next 12 months.
- 43% for the ability to stay socially distanced and minimize the risk of COVID-19.
- 57% chose the rental for more privacy.
- 59% chose a rental for access to a kitchen.
Hoteliers are rethinking services to appeal to customers:
- 59% of hotel executives agree that non-room revenue will represent an increasing share of their annual revenue over the next five years.
- Almost half (43%) said non-room revenue sources could account for up to a quarter of their hotel business in 2021 and 24% said it could represent between 26 and 50% of hotel revenue. ‘within five years.
- 48% of hotel managers improve the equipment in community spaces.
- 46% plan to promote hotel-only amenities, such as restaurants, gyms and swimming pools.
- 26% are looking to add more live events and social activities.
- 28% plan to modernize the kitchens in the bedrooms to better compete with short-term rentals.