As we stumble bleary-eyed into the second half of 2020, it’s hard not to wonder what the holidays have in store for us. Typically, the end of December is the busiest travel time of the year. In fact, the US hit an all-time record in 2019 with 115.6 million people traveling between December 21st and January 1st. But this year, given the pandemic, it’s unclear what hoteliers can expect.
CNN Travel published a story this week that outlined why we’re going to have to wait and see. The article reads, “Numerous data points indicate that, come the 2020 holiday season, many would-be travelers are choosing not to travel — at least not yet. But, there is evidence on the flip side showing that winter holiday vacations for some are still in the cards.” In other words, if you’re wondering whether to bring back furloughed workers, we’re not sure we have the answer just yet.
There are glimmers of hope. The author speaks with quite a few properties that are driving solid bookings for the holiday period. What types of properties are being booked? Luxury resorts in the Caribbean and Maldives. According to the article, “Guests are most interested in the two-to-five-bedroom beachfront villas, which have fully equipped kitchens, spacious dining areas and private pools.”
On the flip side, research company ForwardKeys shows that, globally, as of the beginning of August, winter holiday bookings were 65.4% behind where they were at the equivalent moment in 2019. This data is backed by hotels mentioned in the article who say that “reservations for late December are slightly more than half compared with the same time last year.”
This news doesn’t come as a surprise. With the looming threat of a second wave of Covid-19, plus the fact that many people are reeling from economic losses as a result of the pandemic, travel feels like a faraway dream for many. But others might simply be taking a wait-and-see approach.
How should hotels deal with this uncertainty? Continue to market to guests who can legally travel to your hotel and encourage them to book their holiday stays. But, be mindful of their needs. Provide worry-free bookings by allowing them to cancel without penalty. Share your Covid-19 cleaning guidelines to reassure them that it’s safe to travel. Watch the news for border openings and add new segments as borders reopen (you can find more tips in our Recovery Guide). And when December 31st finally arrives, join us as we wish for a much brighter 2021!