To say that the past year was a roller coaster for the accommodation industry might be an understatement.
For example, as some tourist destinations have been decimated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months, the city of Sedona has had its best year ever in terms of sales and tax revenue generated. But with continued concern about travel, as well as restrictions to other countries, what does the future hold during a pandemic?
At the Sedona Lodging Council meeting on September 14, Corinne Doll, Associate Market Director for Expedia, provided an update on what to expect in the fall. She pointed out that since not everyone books through Expedia or its other companies, some data may not reflect what all resorts have seen or are currently seeing.
“Obviously, COVID has brought about a significant change in booking behavior,” she said. “People fly less, drive more and are looking for extra cleaning precautions and flexibility with their reservations. “
In March, Expedia conducted a nationwide survey, collecting more than 16,000 responses to find out more about what travelers are looking for. The survey showed that overall, 44% of respondents said they had refrained from going on vacation in 2020, while this figure rose to 51% for those 40 and over.
“We saw that the young were ready to go back to traveling much earlier than the older generations,” Doll said. “They felt more comfortable with it, so we saw a lot of young couples traveling, especially here in Sedona.”
In the spring and summer of this year, Doll said there was a lot of pent-up travel demand, and it showed in Sedona compared to other destinations.
That same March poll asked people for their favorite travel destinations over the next 18 months with multiple responses. About 45% declared a seaside destination, 36% declared a large city, 33% wished to go to a small town or village, 25% to a rural area and 22% to the mountains.
“Our overnight stays reached historic highs in March,” she said. “We have greatly exceeded 2019 in terms of overnight stays and ADR [average daily rates] as I’m sure you know. We continued to overtake 2019 in the summer, but since March we have seen a steady deceleration. Overnight stays are decreasing but ADRs continue to increase. “
Doll said that because most wanted to stay closer to home, those who booked through Expedia to stay in Sedona were mainly from Phoenix, Tucson, Scottsdale, other cities in Arizona, and the Los Angeles area. and Las Vegas.
“There is a lot of road travel, which fits a lot of these trends,” she said. “People are looking to go out and Sedona is a great place to do it. “
These same visitors are looking to stay a little longer than in the past, but in doing so, they are looking for incentives. These include a discount, free breakfast, upgraded room, and vouchers for drinks or meals.
As for the near future, Doll said that Expedia anticipates a drop in hotel stays, which will force hotels to assess their current rates to see if they are sustainable.
She said travel and hotel stays in California, for example, are much better than around this time last year, but are far from returning to pre-pandemic figures. .
“We don’t see them closing as much, but we are seeing significant rate cuts in a lot of these other competing markets – they’re much lower than here,” she said. “So if people are looking to travel, they will see fares from $ 100 to a few hundred less in parts of California like San Diego or Las Vegas. It makes them more attractive.