NEW YORK — A survey undertaken by Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) shows an affluent group of travel-ready advocates are driving pent up demand for luxury holidays this year.

The survey, conducted in partnership with Liz Hall Hotel & Travel Consulting, looked at the current sentiment towards travel of more than 6,000 members of the luxury brand’s INVITED program. The results show a desire to travel this year now that travel restrictions have been slightly relaxed, a willingness to travel internationally by plane and a preference for smaller hotels where their experience can be managed and customised.

The survey results split the recipients into three groups — the Travel Ready, those who have already booked and maybe even travelled taking increased safety precautions in their stride; the Travel Reserved, those who are keen to get away but still cautious about potential risk; and the Travel Reluctant who are unlikely to travel until things have returned to ‘normal.’

With more than 46 per cent of recipients expecting they will be in the same position financially next year, it comes as no surprise that more than three-per-cent fall into the Travel-Reserved group and are currently planning a holiday in 2021. In North America, 29 per cent are Travel Ready and are planning a holiday before October this year, with an additional 24-per-cent looking at getting away in Q4. In total, 74 per cent of respondents said they were willing to fly, agreeing almost unanimously (93 per cent) to additional health checks at the airport to ensure the safety of all travellers.

Of North Americans surveyed, 43 per cent are initially planning to travel domestically and 38 per cent were prepared for international travel. SLH reservations data for bookings originating from North America since August 1 reflects these numbers, with 42 per cent of reservations for U.S. hotels, primarily in New York State and California. International bookings made in August were mainly for Q4 visits, with top destinations being Sweden and Finland.

In terms of selecting accommodation, more than 90 per cent of recipients stated they would feel most comfortable in a small hotel, while private residences were also popular. SLH’s Exclusive Use reservations option allows guests to turn more than 250 SLH hotels, ranging from five to 200 rooms, into a fully serviced private residence. With more than 36 intimate hotels offering fewer than 12 rooms, this becomes a viable option for guests wanting to travel with a small group of family and friends.

As expected, location, flexible booking and cleanliness were the most important considerations. SLH has recently launched a Stay Small, Stay Safe program ensuring third-party accreditation for all member hotels with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC). Hotels offering discounts and offers were of least importance to SLH guests.

“Our members have always shown great resilience and an enduring appetite for travel so it’s encouraging to see that they are Travel Ready, looking at options both close to home and abroad for 2020,” says Richard Hyde, managing director of SLH. “Our small hotels are able to offer so many solutions from their location in low-key destinations and neighbourhoods, to their versatility to become essentially a private residence. We’ve established Stay Small, Stay Safe to ensure our guests can travel with peace of mind, both for themselves and the destinations they’re visiting, and to encourage those who are reserved or reluctant to travel that is it safe when the time is right for them.”


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