Hotel marketing in the United States may be easy this summer, but so what? – Skift

Hotels hardly have to sell this summer. After more than 15 months of uncertainty, hotels expect this summer to be perhaps the best summer travel season in living memory, at least in the United States and other countries where vaccines have loosened the grip of the pandemic.

Hotels expect occupancy rates this summer to be 50% higher than in 2019 in the United States. [equivalent to] two summers, ”said Lisa Checchio, Director of Marketing for Wyndham Hotels, at the virtual Skift Hospitality and Marketing Summit today. “This summer will see unprecedented demand,” added Dorothy Dowling, Marketing Director of Best Western Hotel Group.

As the pandemic recedes in the United States, the types of accommodation travelers prefer are also changing. Earlier in the pandemic and last summer, travelers showed a strong preference for short-term rentals, especially in rural areas, while hotels in big cities languished. This is about to change, with travelers showing a marked preference for hotels. “Hotels are at the heart of what people are looking for,” Checchio said. “People are coming back to what they missed the most. “

That’s not to say that short-term rentals won’t be a force hotels will face. “We definitely see them as a competitor,” said Dowling. But there is room at the hostel for all types of travelers, she said. “This summer will be the best of our lives, and all areas of accommodation [industry] will have a banner summer.

As demand increased last summer in the Pacific Northwest, areas near national parks, the Great Lakes, and Florida as people searched for destinations that offer outdoor recreation, this summer has so far seen demand shift back to cities. “It was a myth that big cities won’t come back,” said Melissa Maher, senior vice president of marketing and industry at Expedia. “New York and Los Angeles are in high demand. “

The reservation curve is lengthening, suggesting to the three panelists that summer demand will continue until the end of the summer and into the fall. Bookings for the end of the year and the start of next year are also on the rise.

Business travel lags behind leisure travel, but Dowling expects an increase to begin in September. This follows with what CEO of airlines Expect business travel to start picking up after the September Labor Day vacation, when the kids return to school. Business travel was limited to essential travel last year and fell after Labor Day, Dowling noted, but the same pattern is not expected this year. “T4 [the fourth quarter of this year] this is when business travel really comes back.

The nature of business travel, however, will have changed. Meetings and events should take a little longer to return to pre-pandemic attendance figures, Checchio said. But a new segment has emerged in the pandemic: digital nomads. These travelers will be looking for longer term accommodation and will be on the road for more weeks of the year than traditional business travelers. And the trend is unlikely to abate, as companies largely maintain flexible work rules, at least in the medium term, she said.

The recovery will be patchy, the panelists said. The United States and parts of Europe are booming. Canada could reopen by July, prompting the return of cross-border travel. Asia remains a challenge. In all regions, however, domestic travel is expected to overtake international travel.

Loyalty programs remain important for hotels, but after 15 months guest attention may have wandered off. Hotels are focused on rebuilding that loyalty, through more digital marketing that reaches customers where they are. Traditional media marketing is returning after a hiatus during much of the pandemic, but digital will now gain more attention. “Everyone’s up for grabs,” Dowling said.

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