Jeri Clausing

Jeri Clausing

A new survey offers a fresh dose of optimism for the luxury travel sector.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World says a poll of its North American loyalty program members shows more than half  are planning trips this year, and three-quarters of them are willing to fly.

And almost all, 90%, said they would feel most comfortable in a small hotel.

The group polled 6,000 loyalty club members worldwide, in partnership with Liz Hall Hotel & Travel Consulting. Among the findings: 43% of North American respondents are initially planning to travel domestically, and 38% are willing to travel internationally.

Small Luxury Hotels’ reservations data for bookings originating from North America since Aug. 1 mirror those results, with 42% of reservations being for U.S. hotels, primarily in New York and California.

International bookings made in August were mainly for fourth-quarter visits. The top two international destinations were Sweden and Finland, Small Hotels said.

“Our members have always shown great resilience and an enduring appetite for travel, so it’s encouraging to see that they are travel ready, looking at options both close to home and abroad for 2020,” said Richard Hyde, managing director of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Location, flexible booking and cleanliness were the most important considerations cited by respondents, Small Luxury Hotels said. Hotels offering discounts and special offers were of least importance to its guests, the survey showed.

The group recently launched its Stay Small, Stay Safe health and safety accreditation program for all 520 member hotels in 90 countries.  Hyde said the program, created in partnership with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, was developed “to ensure that our guests can travel with peace of mind, both for themselves and the destinations they are visiting, and to encourage those who are reserved or reluctant to travel that is it safe when the time is right for them.”

The group also has launched an Exclusive Use option offering full buyouts of more than 250 Small Luxury Hotels properties ranging in size from five to 200 rooms.

“Our small hotels are able to offer so many solutions, from their location in low-key destinations and neighborhoods to their versatility to become essentially a private residence,” Hyde said.

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