LAURIE BARATTI NOVEMBER 04, 2020
Even as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the U.S. this autumn, Americans appear to be going ahead with planning their 2020 wintertime and holiday travels.
According to the LuggageHero October Travel Sentiment Monitor’s findings, almost half (45 percent) of Americans are still planning to travel this winter.
More than half who are planning such trips (58 percent) said they’d only be traveling within the U.S., despite currently worsening epidemiological conditions.
That being said, travelers are also adapting to the “new normal” and proceeding cautiously in terms of planning. When asked what types of accommodations they prefer to stay in, 28 percent of respondents felt that both hotels and short-term rental properties provide an adequately hygienic environment amid COVID-19, although independent lodgings seem to have an edge over hotels in this sense.
Sixteen percent of those surveyed felt that short-term rentals better enable them to practice proper hygiene and manage COVID-19 health risks, while 11 percent preferred hotels for hygiene purposes. Forty-five percent answered that they’d avoid using outside accommodations altogether.
Americans’ finances allotted for travel in 2020 have been severely impacted by the pandemic, with travel budgets dwindling each month according to LuggageHero’s past Travel Sentiment Monitors.
Fully half of survey participants from the U.S. reported having reduced their travel spending for this year by over 40 percent in comparison to their initial plans—the biggest dip recorded since the company began its monthly polling efforts in March. Only 36 percent of respondents said that their original travel budgets for 2020 remain untouched.
“These results certainly reflect what we’re seeing with our luggage storage activity—more people are traveling inside their own countries and using short-term rentals, which is our primary market,” said Jannik Lawaetz, CEO and co-founder of LuggageHero.
Stephen Scott, Luxury Travel Advisor with Protravel International in Chicago, told TravelPulse that these findings are consistent with the consumer tendencies that he’s seeing on the ground this season. He said that these trends even align with travel advisors’ own travels at this time.
Scott agreed that American travelers are continuing to plan trips much closer to home, as widespread restrictions on international travel continue to render most global destinations inaccessible.
“It’s a toss-up on what destination requests we are going to see right now, but the trends have overwhelmingly been about USA travel and Mexico travel for the American consumer, with the Caribbean a distant third place,” he said.
He also touched on the financial stresses that COVID-19 has put on people’s travel budgets, pointing out, “There are luxury hotels in parts of the country, such as Atlanta, that are running at near full capacity during the pandemic, so demand may be tied to economic resources and not simply the desire to travel.”
Regardless of where winter travelers are headed, Scott emphasized the importance of obtaining assistance from a travel professional while planning in these tumultuous times.
“This is legitimately the time for the travel advisor community to shine because there is so much change, uncertainty and regulation in the market right now that enlisting an Advisor has got to be number one on your list if you are thinking about traveling domestically or internationally,” he said.