Industry Update
Opinion Article 2 October 2020

Pre- and Post-COVID Travel Preferences

By Linda Canina, Professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (SHA)

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COVID-19 has disrupted travel and the hospitality industry like no other historical event. As travel slowly resumes in the US under strict government guidelines, our survey results suggest that travel-related businesses like hotels are now serving a more cautious guest who appreciates mask wearing, social distancing, and increased cleaning. Respondents' preference for virtual business meetings and using their personal car for future leisure travel increased, while respondents' preference for staying in urban properties for future leisure and business travel decreased. Beyond that, however, results show that travel preferences for price segments (e.g. luxury, midscale, upscale, etc.) and accommodation type (e.g. major brand hotels, alternative accommodations, independent hotels) remained relatively unchanged; that is, respondents who preferred staying in major brand hotels before COVID did not suddenly prefer alternative accommodations like Airbnb, and the reverse did not happen either. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, 95% of respondents indicated they were likely to travel in the next 3-12 months for leisure, business meetings, and professional conferences.

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Linda Canina

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