In 2019, Americans spent a whopping $972 billion on domestic travel – and that was at a time when international travel was still a wide-open option.
While some states have instituted travel restrictions and there’s no question that all travel levels are down from their expected marks this year, Americans are still making efforts to move around the country. As summer winds down, here are a few things we’ve learned about Airbnb domestic travel in the U.S. and how we expect they’ll continue to make an impact through the end of 2020.
Guests are planning ahead less and traveling more spontaneously.
According to data compiled by Guesty, there’s been a major uptick in bookings made just a week before “go-time.” More and more guests are “feeling out” the moment – case levels where they’re traveling from and to, restrictions on travel and movements in the area they’re vacationing in, and whether or not entertainment venues and activities are open – before they book.
These days, such precautions are completely warranted and the emerging pattern makes sense as most Americans are genuinely concerned about their health and the safety of those around them. Because there’s really no telling when this will all be “over,” based on current trends, we’re going to bet that bookings for much of the rest of this year will follow this pattern.
More people are opting to stay closer to home than travel across the country.
Earlier this summer, Airbnb reported a huge uptick in local bookings around the world – meaning guests were opting to stay closer to home rather than travel to far-away places. This surge was a surprise given the pandemic was still looking pretty dire in a lot of places and considering the bottoming-out of cancellations it experienced as the pandemic made its way around the globe.
As air travel is still a risk given the necessary close proximity to other travelers and the question of the safety of recirculated cabin air (even with many airlines promising state-of-the-art filtration systems, there is still no consensus or enough study information to confirm how truly safe airplane air is), fewer travelers are trekking anywhere near airports.
More than ever, guests are opting to stay longer.
Rather than booking for a short time, guests are often choosing to extend their stays. This could be a combination of necessity and opportunity: Guests who really want to experience a location can’t cram as much into a shorter stay and thanks to the surge in remote work requirements, they may have the time to “live” somewhere else for a while.
Airbnb seems to be pushing this by alerting hosts like you to update their listings to cater to guests looking for longer-term stays and by giving guests more obvious long-term, close-to-home options. We expect this to become more of a norm than it was before given the continuing crisis, though there will still be plenty of guests who only book for a few days.
Things began to heat up for the summer. With the slow season upon us, we’re sure to see more shifts in the “normal” expectations for bookings. That said, by arming yourself with recent facts and having a better idea of what guests are looking for in their stays, you may be able to come out on top.
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