Increasing traffic and increasing bookings is one of the biggest aims for any hotel, but in the United States, it’s becoming a real problem.
America may be facing many challenges at this point in time, but one in particular is causing concern for the tourism industry.
It seems that one of the biggest domestic and international travel markets in the world..doesn’t want to travel. And when they do, it’s for a short period of time and the potential revenue overseas hotels are losing out on is uncalculated.
In fact, the lack of vacationing by Americans boggles the mind and is perhaps the result of an attitude that is starting to creep into the greater workforce of other nations.
In 2016, Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index found a momentous 53% of Americans had failed to take paid leave within the last 12 months.
Furthermore, 37% hadn’t been on a holiday in two years.
Such a depressing figure could only be caused by a gradual amalgamation of issues. It’s even more interesting to note American workers took more days off during the recession of 2010 (an average of 17.6 days per year) than they did in 2015 (16.2) when the economy had somewhat recovered.
By leaving all their vacation on the shelf, Americans have effectively forfeited $61.4 billion in benefits and given their employers countless free days of work.
Not only that, the original research performed by Project: Time Off showed that of 658 million vacation days not taken, 222 million were lost because they could not be rolled over into the next calendar year.
So what is causing this downturn of downtime? A scouring of surveys gives us a good idea.
Why aren’t Americans travelling?
It probably isn’t hard to see a general trend of people becoming workaholics, sacrificing health and happiness in the process.
Developing a work martyr complex is not healthy for anyone but that’s what is happening, and workers are becoming more quickly and easily burnt out.
The survey by Project: Time Off essentially boiled down to the notion of fear and delusion.
The main reasons were as follows:
37% fear they would return to an overwhelming mountain of work
30% believe no one else is capable of doing their job while they’re away
30% say they simply cannot afford to take a vacation
28% think it’s harder to take time off the more you grow in your career
22% sacrifice holidays to show dedication to their employer
19% don’t want to risk seeming replaceable
Millennials are the most prominent demographic when it comes to these concerns because they feel like they have to prove themselves and dispel any doubt that may hang over their capability.
It’s fair to say these concerns are relatively universal if not entirely rational, but they’re not crippling other countries in the same manner.
In fact countries that work less, like parts of Scandinavia, travel more.
While Americans can certainly help themselves by planning time off in advance and taking a stronger approach to work-life balance, what can hotels do to try to drag some of this massive market onto a plane and into their rooms, or alternatively make up the lost opportunity elsewhere?
How can hotels combat this worrying trend?
It’s likely hotels are already doing as much as they can to promote their property and their destination. However, there are some adjustments to strategy that may help arrest the slide in revenue.
Tap into different demographics
If you’re a hotel situated in the United States and rely heavily on domestic travel you could be suffering. A report from the US Travel Association states the US travel industry is currently more dependent on domestic travel than it has been in the past.
Rather than washing along with the flow until it lets you go, you could attempt to escape the riptide by using a broader distribution strategy to connect to different online travel agents and reach new markets from around the world.
With more connections your hotel will be more visible and have more influence over potential guests from overseas. Alternatively, you might even find new markets within your own borders that haven’t been traditional guests of your hotel.
Some OTA channels are better than others at reaching niche markets and attracting specific types of travellers. It’s important to research which ones might be best for you if you’re looking to offset a slow period.
Give incentives for travellers to stay longer
If you make an offer too good to refuse, chances are guests won’t say no, even if they want to. Obviously this shouldn’t come at a loss to your hotel but some offers can make a big difference to travellers and still fall within your budget margins.
If your regular customer base includes a lot of business travellers, offer discounts or extra perks such as a free massage or a drinks voucher to convince them to stay an extra night.
If enough people extend their stay, it will offset the lack of new traffic coming in and keep your revenue steady.
If families or groups are commonly staying at your hotel find fun activities to keep them around. Discounts for local attractions or recommendations for hidden gems could win them over for another day.
If a guest feels like they’re getting value for money, they’ll respond positively.
Ultimately, the workaholic trend will come and go like any other. But remember that despite this, recent times have shown an increasing willingness to switch off, get away, and truly experience something new. And that’s good news for hoteliers.