Survey: Travelers are eager but cautious for summer

More respondents are planning to book directly and will stay at hotels over rentals

The COVID-19 pandemic remains the greater concern among travelers this summer rather than financial concerns, according to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte. Still, four in 10 are planning to travel.

WITH CAUTIOUS EAGERNESS, Americans are ready to travel this summer, according to a survey from consulting firm Deloitte. There are some new trends in the modern travel environment that may particularly benefit hotels.

Four in 10 Americans intend to take at least one trip between Memorial Day and the end of September, according to Deloitte’s article on the survey, “Keen but cautious: U.S. leisure travel in the second summer of COVID-19.” That’s close to 2019 levels, indicating leisure travelers are ready to get out.

“But Americans are not throwing caution to the wind. Despite easing of local restrictions and increasing vaccination penetration, health remains top of mind,” the article said. “For most of those who will venture out, the pandemic has introduced new factors in decisions across their journeys: Where to go, how to get there, where to stay, and what to do in-destination. Travel providers looking to capture returning leisure demand should address these new needs.”

For example, enhanced safety measures are a major factor for 89 percent of survey respondents in selecting a hotel. Also, more travelers, 54 percent, said they are booking their travel and lodging reservations directly rather than using OTAs.

“The shift in favor of direct booking is a trend that hoteliers will likely look to capitalize on and extend beyond the pandemic,” the article said. “Every opportunity should be taken to provide and remind travelers of any benefits of booking direct, from fenced rates or upgrade eligibility, to dining coupons or special access to amenities. Hotels also should make meaningful ongoing engagement via loyalty programs a strategic priority to encourage future direct bookings.”

Also, 85 percent of summer travelers planning to include lodging will stay at a hotel, compared to 23 percent that will use private rentals.

“Hotel stayers are more secure in their lodging choice, and the main differentiator for choosing a hotel is trust in safety measures,” the article said. “But the hotel-stayers considering rentals seem to have lingering doubts. Their top reasons to cross-shop involve having more control over their contact with strangers.”

Another Deloitte survey began seeing rising optimism about summer travel as far back as February.