Ahead of Thanksgiving – followed immediately by the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday sales periods – hotels will benefit from the return to travel, accounting for more than half of all trip accommodations (55%) and nearly two-thirds (62%) of paid accommodations.
“As one would expect at this time of year, leisure rather than business travel is the focus of travelers’ intent, with the pandemic meaning that many people have previously been unable to enjoy the festive season with their loved ones. Despite the break from travel, Thanksgiving hotel guests remain brand loyal. Overall, nearly two thirds (61%) of hotel guests say they try to stay at their favorite brands whenever possible, while only about a third say they have no hotel brand preference.”Matthew Petrie, President of BVA BDRC Americas
In total, roughly one-third (32%) of those polled planned to travel during the holiday season, with one-quarter (25%) planning a vacation/leisure trip before the end of the year.
Looking specifically at Thanksgiving, 20% planned to travel for the holiday, with nearly a third (30%) of Gen Z and one-quarter (26%) of Millennials traveling away from home for at least one night. Boomers were the least likely to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday or for any reason through the end of the year, possibly due to concerns about Covid-19.
The average Thanksgiving traveler will spend 3.4 nights away from home, with Millennials taking the shortest trip (2.9 nights) and Boomers taking the longest (3.4 nights) (4.2 nights).
Hotel alternatives such as Airbnb accounted for slightly more than one-tenth of paid accommodations for Thanksgiving 2021, and because the platform is more geographically diverse than hotels, it will provide more guest accommodation in rural beach/coastal areas than hotels.
In line with previous years, the car was the preferred mode of transportation for 69 percent of travelers, with one-third (34 percent) planning to fly to their destinations. Many Thanksgiving travelers will book their flights through an OTA (Online Travel Agent). More than one-third of travelers (42%) will use an OTA to book a hotel.
Direct booking via a hotel website (41%) or phone (16%) remained stable throughout the pandemic, but so did the one-quarter (25%) of hotel guests who prefer to book their hotel through an OTA.
For those staying in a hotel over the Thanksgiving holiday, brand preference was most evident in the budget/economy tier, with Holiday Inn Express capturing the largest share of consideration (67 percent). The mid-market tier was more competitive, whereas the Upscale tier was dominated by Hilton (61 percent) and Marriott (52 percent ). The Hyatt Regency and Four Seasons tied for first place in the luxury tier.
Petrie added: “While travelers showed an enduring loyalty to hotel brands, this was uneven across hotel tiers. Luxury and budget/economy hotel guests reported the highest share of loyalty, while nearly half of mid-market and upscale guests have no brand preference.
“This can be attributed to consistency across the brands, which is stronger in the budget and economy sectors and where value is a key driver of bookings – loyalty discounts are more successful in these segments.”