Consumer Nation

Best Western Says Holiday Travel on the Rise

If you’re battling the holiday travel crowds this week and it seems more crowded than last year, you’d be right.

Based on data from 2,000 properties in the U.S. and Canada, advance bookings are up 5.5 percent for the Thanksgiving long weekend that began today and ends Sunday. Bookings have gained 22.9 percent for the Christmas and Hanukkahperiod, Dec. 23 to Dec. 31, versus a year ago.

“In recent years we’ve seen guests fight to keep their summer vacations with Best Western, and it seems we are seeing an uptick in holiday travel bookings for similar reasons. Our guests are very savvy when it comes to itineraries, loyalty points and value-based purchasing decisions," said Troy Rutman, a spokesman for Best Western.

Best Western’s bookings mirror trends reported by other groups. AAA last week said 42.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 4 percent more than a year ago.

Pent-Up Demand

While travel volumes remain below pre-recession levels, AAA said pent-up demand is prompting consumers to overlook the stagnant economy and plan more travel. Thanksgiving travels marks the first "significant" increase in any holiday travel this year, AAA said. Travel on and around Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day this year were flat or lower than year-ago levels.

Best Western also said guests this holiday season will be staying 9 percent longer in rooms year-over-year during this Thanksgiving week, and 29 percent longer this Christmas season compared to last year.

"Particularly when times are tough, people want to be around friends and family. Holiday travel provides an opportunity to focus on what’s important," said Rutman of Best Western.

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