The busiest air travel holiday of the year looks to be an extremely strong one, as consumers are expected to increase their overall travel spend by 20% for Thanksgiving 2019, including tacking on an extra day to their trips.
The average consumer will spend $620 on hotel room nights this year, up from $515 in 2018, and $401 in 2017, according to Trivago, the online travel search engine.
For the first time in the five years that Trivago has produced this report, consumers also have increased their average length of stay for Thanksgiving, from three nights to four nights. This appears to have caused consumers to do more price shopping to make their dollar go further, as average room rates dropped to $139 per night this year, versus $172 in 2018. In 2017, average room rates for Thanksgiving travelers was $120 a night.
“Because they have increased their length of stay, they are looking for bargains in accommodations,” Trivago said in a statement accompanying their study.
In general, forecasts are for a strong Thanksgiving travel season. AAA Travel said that more than 55 million travelers are making plans for a trip of 50 miles or more away from home, the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000. Overall, an additional 1.6 million more people will travel compared with last year, a 2.9% increase.
In Trivago’s study, the lower room rates might be the result of better advance planning. According to Trivago, the average advance booking time surged to 76 days this year, versus 49 days in 2018, and 32 days in 2017, Trivago said.
The top three destinations travelers will be headed to next week are New York (7% of all consumers in the study), Las Vegas (6%), and Orlando (4%), Trivago said. AAA Travel found in its study that the top three would be Orlando, Anaheim, and New York, with Las Vegas in fourth place.
Trivago also analyzed room rates for the period of November 2018 to October 2019 and found that the cities with the greatest price increases were Chicago, with a $57 average rate jump; San Francisco, with a $55 bump; and Barcelona, where average room rates are up $41 this year over the same period last year.
As a result, travelers heading to Chicago are spending $228 more on accommodations than this time last year, while San Francisco travelers are spending $220 more, and those lucky enough to get away to Barcelona are spending $164 more.
Trivago’s data shows that the top three cities with the greatest price decrease from November 2018 to October 2019 were Reykjavik, with a $31 average price decrease; Hong Kong, with a $30 average price decrease (likely due to the protests and civil unrest currently); and Auckland, New Zealand, where the average price decrease was $22.