COVID Hotel Safety: Guest Travel Habits

Return to Travel

Recent research out of BVA BDRC shows that Americans are increasingly planning travel over the Summer holiday. This is based in part on search data from the Expedia group that shows internet traffic on travel and hotel sites has increased significantly week-on-week. Although travel steadily dropped throughout most of March and April, it began rising and has continued a positive trend throughout June. Specifically, domestic travel searches for July trips has increased by 20% in recent days. With increased interest and intent to travel has come a higher consumer demand for safe lodging, contactless alternatives and much higher expectations for cleanliness overall.

COVID Cleaning Standards

Nearly 40% of those polled said they intended to travel over the next 3 months. Additionally, participants in the survey had a lot to say about their requirements for clean and safe hotels and here are points for hoteliers to consider:

40% of respondents expect staff to wear protective gear, such as face masks;
More than 50% of respondents expect hand sanitizer to be available throughout the hotel and enhanced cleaning regimes;
Vacation rental guests similarly expect new cleaning standards, with more than 50% expecting hand sanitizer on property;
Nearly half also expect a company-wide cleanliness standard for vacation rentals comparable to hotels.

Economy Hotel Boom

Searches for 5-star hotels are down and the Expedia Group search data shows a 9-point increase from mid-April to mid-May in the number of searches for 2-star hotels. This shows that lower price points are a factor in booking decisions now more than ever. In fact, BVA BDRC research says that online travel agency interest has spiked up by 57% with 73% claiming cost savings as their primary reason. To meet traveler expectations on price, hotels should consider adding flexible rates and promotions to draw attention to their listings.

By Car

More and more Americans are considering traveling by car this year. This number is up 20% from last year. This move towards more individual travel is echoed across the industry with 25-35% decreases in train, ship and plane booking and a rise in RV purchases and rentals.\ Only 15% of consumers polled plan to book a flight for a trip in the next month, with around 1 in 10 showing interest within the next one to three months. Hoteliers have to consider how to market specifically to this larger group of road travelers.

Vacation Types

Although most are interested in visiting family in the short term, 47% of BVA BDRC survey respondents also showed interest in natural destinations due to their remoteness. 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, hotels are encouraged to add refundable rates plans that allow for cancellations or changes without fees.

Next Steps

Hotel Guest Habits

With all the changes in consumer habits around COVID and hotel stay, hoteliers have a lot of opportunities to target marketing efforts around travelers as the industry re-opens. Specifically, hotel owners need to consider the necessary steps that need to be taken to offer visual cues to their guests that they are making efforts to step up the cleanliness and safety of their hotels. This may include contactless services, staff wearing masks and readily available hand sanitizer throughout the property. Just as important, we can take a note from this research and try to meet travelers where they are, on the road, in nature and making up for lost time by reuniting with family and friends.