Home / TRAVEL / Holiday travel bookings lag, but trend toward last-minute trips might help – CNBC

Holiday travel bookings lag, but trend toward last-minute trips might help – CNBC

This year, Christmas might not be so merry for the travel industry. While Labor Day travel was down only slightly this year, the upcoming winter holidays could be a different story. That’s according to figures from vacation property management software firm Guesty.

The firm found that Labor Day accommodations bookings were 5% lower than in 2019, but advance reservations for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve this year are off by 16%, 35% and 33%, respectively, compared with a year ago at this time.

The difference could be tied to unknowns about where the pandemic is headed.

“We have seen holiday bookings fluctuate month over month based on consumer confidence in regards to lifting restrictions and recovery and, on the flip side, wane when the virus gains traction,” said Omer Rabin, Guesty’s managing director, Americas. “As many assume that the colder seasons will result in an uplift in cases, it’s no surprise we see a decrease in bookings over the holiday season.”

Guesty is used by short-term hosts and property management companies to manage rentals in conjunction with booking channels such as Airbnb, Booking.com and Vrbo.

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A trend toward last-minute accommodations reservations could help mitigate the decrease in advance holiday travel bookings, however. In August, Guesty found a 3% uptick in reservations made within one day of travel and a 5% jump in same-day reservations. That same month, the majority of reservations were made within seven days of check-in. If the pattern holds, holiday numbers might end up better than they now look.

“I predict that the pattern of last-minute bookings will continue and that we will see many book stays one to two weeks ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas this year,” said Rabin.

That prediction is backed up by data from Adobe, whose latest Digital Economy Index showed a rise in last-minute flight reservations. From Sept. 1, the Tuesday preceding Labor Day weekend, consumers booked 19% more flights than the week prior. In 2019, growth in the same period was only 4%. The numbers suggest travelers are now waiting to book flights until almost the last minute, say Adobe officials.

Holiday travel bookings lag, but trend toward last-minute trips might help – CNBC

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