Safety and the Future of Travel with COVID-19
As states begin to ease restrictions on travel and businesses begin to re-open, questions begin to rise in the minds of consumers and business owners alike. Hoteliers wonder who may be first to return, or how quickly they can expect the demand to rise for hotel rooms. For consumers and guests, they are left wondering what it means to be safe when they travel. Data from Guesty, a property management company for short-term rentals, indicates that travelers have begun booking trips again for later in the year. In the last few weeks, more reservations have been made than cancellations. Bookings for New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are up 23%, 38%, and 40% respectively compared to this time in 2019. It’s clear that travelers are getting antsy to travel, and there are a few reasons hoteliers should keep in mind that have travelers feeling ready to get back on the road again.
Making Up for Cancelled Summer Plans
Unfortunately, many people had to cancel their exciting summer vacation plans due to COVID-19 restrictions – whether from beach closures, park closures, or event cancellations, plans were thrown into disarray nationwide. Separated from their families and having to miss significant life events like birthdays and graduations have left many travelers anxious to see their loved ones and celebrate lifelong milestones together. As a result, most of the tourism that can be expected to bounce back first is squarely among leisure travelers. People miss their friends and families, and as more guests test the waters with nearby hotel visits, more people will begin to plan and book safe stays. These mindful travelers are doing what they can to check each hotel to be positive the property is safe and practicing the guidelines proposed by the CDC for cleanliness and social distancing.
Drive-To Destinations are Safer than Flying
Guests feel more secure driving to a location nearby than flying to one farther away, as data from Longwoods International supports. Well over half of the population that intends to travel – precisely, 74% – plan to do so by car, most planning to do so within 200 miles of their home. These destinations are aptly named “drive-to” locations, and guests make plans to visit them because the risk is greatly lowered when driving in a car rather than occupying close quarters with strangers in an airplane. Should any emergencies arise during the trip, such as someone getting sick or needing to return home to tend to another family member, it will be easier for the travelers to return home via car. Additionally, guests will be looking for hotels that have amenities that allow guests to spread out – for example, a pool deck with chairs sitting at least 6 feet apart. Health experts have also been advocating for room service as the safest way to eat on property, which alludes that guests will be seeking hotels that have on-site food delivery options. If your hotel is preparing outdoor areas for guests to safely relax, or if your property has access to special deals involving food delivery, now would be an ideal time to promote them on social media.
Low Rates and Flexible Cancellation Policies
The economic devastation that has followed behind the coronavirus has impacted hundreds of thousands of businesses and families worldwide is also raising questions for hoteliers about when they can expect guests to return. Despite this, many potential travelers have been taking advantage of lower-than-usual hotel rates with flexible cancellation policies. Similar to the reason drive-to destinations are so attractive, a flexible cancellation policy is an additional safety net for the unexpected. If a guest is planning to visit in September but starts to feel sick (whether it’s due to the coronavirus or otherwise), being able to cancel their reservation and stay home without penalty is an immense relief. At a time when uncertainty is causing stress for people everywhere, offering flexible policies can put travelers’ minds at ease. It allows travelers to make decisions that keep themselves and those around them safer, so hotels should be crystal clear about what their policies are throughout the booking process.
What to Expect from Travel
In the coming months, the summer holidays may see emptier beaches and resorts than usual – but there is a silver lining that will come during fall and winter. As people continue to stay safe and at home, more states will be able to confidently open up again, and travel will trickle back to a steady pace for the holidays later this year. There is no better time than right now to get a firm handle on your hotel’s reputation, and our experts at TravelMediaGroup are available to help you streamline your property and give you time to focus on making your guest experience the safest it can be. Look through our services page for more information about how we can provide comprehensive hotel marketing for your property.