Here’s what Thanksgiving travel trends look like in 4 key U.S. markets

Here’s what Thanksgiving travel trends look like in 4 key U.S. markets

As 2020 nears to a close and with America’s largest holidays just around the corner, what can the hotel industry expect amidst what feels like an unending COVID pandemic?

The US currently has over 11 million COVID cases. With winter fast approaching, fears of another wave are on everyone’s mind. The idea of planning ahead has never been so precarious and uncertain.

Constantly changing travel restrictions and fears of spreading the virus to family and friends are a few of the major factors contributing to the hesitation of early holiday bookings. But as we get closer to the Thanksgiving holiday - historically one of the busiest travel times in the U.S. - will we begin to see positive trends?

A new way forward

Market Insight provides a real time view on demand, based on the most current culmination of data points including: GDS, major OTA’s, Meta-Sites, flight and hotel searches by consumer, alternative lodging, and public holidays/events.  Market Insight is the first tool in the industry to provide real time data on booking intent. Now hotels can project demand for reservations based on consumer search behavior and price competitively based on actionable insights.

As of November 11th, Market Insight is projecting positive trends in select locations, which could be early signals for a large demand increase on the horizon. Now, let’s take a look at these locations (as of Nov. 11th in the Market Insight tool) to see what factors seem to be pointing toward a positive trend.

Market 1: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Compared to last week, consumer hotel searches in Chattanooga have doubled, possibly signaling the first glimpse of buyer confidence.  69.1% of all searches represented a LOS of 2+ nights, with the majority of demand for Thanksgiving Day and the day after.  We will keep a close eye and monitor this market to see if this trend continues to increase.

 

Chattanooga-Overview

Chattanooga-Hotel-Patterns

Market 2: Phoenix, Arizona

Not only has Phoenix seen a significant uptick in hotel searches, but flight searches for Thanksgiving week have spiked as well.  We are now seeing positive flight search trends starting as early as November 20th while maintaining that increase all the way through November 27th

Unlike Chattanooga, 82.8% of the potential demand has expressed booking for an average LOS of 7 nights. This may prove to be that a higher percentage of the potential demand is coming from locations further away.  The week of November 21st through the 28th is the only week in the month of November in which the city of Phoenix has maintained stay-through searches above 1,000 each day.  

This is good news for hotels in and around the Phoenix area. This combination of high search traffic and a favorable LOS demand can prove to be lucrative for hotels, especially during these uncertain times. The potential for LOS restrictions and pricing strategy adjustments within comp sets may make sense here.

Phoenix-Hotel-Patterns-2

Phoenix-Stay-Thourough

Market 3: Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara hotels should not be surprised to continue to see an increased demand for bookings the week of Thanksgiving.  In addition to heavy consumer interest to visit during Thanksgiving, demand has also been very high for the prior two weekends, leading up to the holiday. At least 3% of the hotels in Santa Barbara have added a LOS restriction of 2+ nights, while another 24% of hotels are already sold out, have LOS restrictions, or are closed due to COVID.

Santa-Barbara-1But, November weekends aren’t the only days that demand is trending up.  As of October 25th Santa Barbara is starting to show signs of a favorable New Year’s for hotels.

Santa-Barbara-Evolution

Market 4: Key West, Florida

Key West looks to be gearing up for a positive end of the year, just like most major cities in Florida. Demand here is likely a result of a destination Thanksgiving celebration. Hotel searches have maintained a high potential for the week of Thanksgiving as travelers finalize their travel plans. About 32.8% of consumers are looking at a minimum stay of 4-7 nights that week.

Key-West-LOS
Even more interesting is how demand for the week of Christmas in the Keys has not budged or decreased in the last 2 months - this tends to be customers who choose palm trees over Christmas trees. 53% of hotels are already unavailable for December 30th and this  continues to increase to 77% on December 31st.

Key-West-Unhotels-1Key-West-Unhotels-2

The first signs of upwards trends for the holidays are underway, and we expect this to continue into many other cities as we get closer to the full holiday season. This information is changing by the minute and we would not be surprised to see another handful of large cities indicating booking demand increases. 

With consumer confidence still at an overall low point and travel restrictions ever-evolving across states and cities in the United States, demand projections have become more challenging. Once in a century events such as COVID-19 render historical data largely irrelevant, throwing off benchmarks and Year over Year demand comparisons. But with real time data from GDS, major OTA’s, meta-sites, flight and consumer searches, Market Insight continues to prove to be an invaluable resource - empowering hotels to be aware, be flexible, and be competitive, even in volatile conditions.

Credit to: Krystal De Anda

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