MidwestHospitality A sluggish summer: Hotel operators shouldn’t plan on many “No-Vacancy” days this year Dan Rafter July 1, 2020 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share via email Will Americans hit the road this summer, even as the country deals with a COVID-19 pandemic that is showing few signs of slowing? Some will, according to the latest study by AAA. But hotel operators and owners shouldn’t expect many full houses. According to its survey released June 25, AAAA said that Americans will take 700 million trips from July through September. That might sound like a lot, but AAA said that this number is down nearly 15 percent compared to the same period last year and would be the first decline in summer travel since 2009. If there was no COVID-19? AAA would have projected 857 million trips during the third quarter of this year. That woud have been a healthy increase of 3.6 percent from the previous third quarter. By this analysis, then, the pandemic will have eliminated nearly 150 million trips from Americans by the time the summer ends. Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of Travel, said that while many Americans will travel this summer, they’re taking smaller, less extravagrant trips. “Americans will get out and explore this summer, though they’re taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach when it comes to booking and are likely to book more long weekend getaways than extended vacations,” Twidale said. This isn’t the best news for the hospitality industry. Yes, it is positve that Americans are willing to take short trips. What’s discouraging is that they aren’t particularly interested in booking bigger trips that require longer hotel stays. And when Americans do travel this summer, they’ll be doing it by car. AAA reports that car trips are the favored mode of transportation for 97 percent of survey respondents. Car travel from July through September will be down by just 3 percent this year when compared to the same period in 2019. AAA reported that air travel will fall by about 74 percent during this summer travel season while rail, cruise ship and bus travel will fall by 86 percent.