In these travel destinations, the off-season can definitely be gone

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Increased demand for beach and outdoor travel and more flexible working hours have almost eliminated off-season in some popular destinations.

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Justin Todd knew how to predict when the business would be slower. Having spent 15 years in the hospitality industry in Aspen, Colorado, he knew the period between the mash and the flowering of wildflowers would be quiet. From mid-April to early June, many Aspen properties, including Aspen Meadows Resort, where he is CEO, would close – there were not enough stores to justify keeping them open. Companies often used this window for repairs, deep cleaning and project completion. It was also a time for employees to settle on their own vacation and the locals to have their community to themselves.

However, since the beginning of the pandemic, this period of peace has been disrupted.

“It’s definitely busier now,” Todd said of the high season, adding that his resort is currently open year-round – occupancy rates above 70 percent for the previously slow season have made it an easy business choice.

Aspen is not alone. Across the country, destinations have seen a shift in traditional travel seasons. Many other places that have historically decided to close during slower periods, such as The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoethey are now open all year round because there is much more demand.

“The length of the off-season has shortened significantly,” said Linda Bendt, owner of a Minnesota-based travel agency. Pique. “In many places, the lines are blurred. Travelers look at destinations differently. “

Interest in vacation spots is increasingly separating from weather forecasts. According to Wendy Burke, founder of the travel agency La Jolla in California Cadence“Availability and security are now the two biggest factors.”

“There’s scarred tissue that travelers from this period of the pandemic have, and it’s not likely to heal so quickly,” Burk said. “Windows travel opportunities can close as soon as they open. When you have the opportunity to go and this option is safe and accessible, you go. “

Jan Freitag, National Director for Hospitality Analytics in the Information and Analytical Society CoStar Group, attributes the principles of work from anywhere during part of the change. It allows people to travel more often and longer.

“It used to be that when you looked at the data, there was a clear mark of high water in June and July – hotel occupancy at the national level was more than 70 percent and then dropped at the end of the summer,” Freitag said. “In 2021, these high numbers remained stable until October. And that was the case with fewer business trips – these numbers are probably just recreational travelers. ”

Nancy Lien, Public Relations Manager at Expedia Group (which includes more than 200 websites, mostly travel aggregators and travel metasearch engines, such as Expedia.com, Willow, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, Trivagoa CarRentals.com) stated that the data collected by its company were in line with CoStar ‘s findings.

“Looking back on Expedia and Hotels.com accommodation data for September 2021, we see that travel demand has remained strong, as have accommodation prices, which is at odds with the seasonal trends we saw before the pandemic,” Lien said.

She noted, for example, that demand for accommodation in Mexico and the Caribbean had risen by about 200 percent in September 2021 compared with September 2019. Lien added that the places with the strongest increase in travelers in the high season are those with access to the outdoors, especially in national parks and beaches.

“The best destinations are seeing a double-digit increase in demand for hotels compared to the pre-pandemic period – the spring season may be gone in some places,” Lien said, adding that this is a trend we are likely to continue this autumn.

According to Lien, hotels in places like Oʻahu, Maui, the Florida Keys, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and all the major coastal destinations in Mexico are experiencing significant demand compared to 2019, regardless of the time of year. Similarly, accommodation near national parks – even during the freezing winter months in parks such as Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone – is well above pre-pandemic levels.

The extended season can prove to be a help as well as an obstacle to the destinations. More passengers usually means higher incomes. But in destinations like Park City, Utah and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the summer and winter seasons can be hectic, shrinking off-season means workers don’t have many breaks, which is especially problematic when there is already a shortage of manpower. It also means that local people have to contend with the constant influx of tourists all year round.

The off-season was a good time for travelers to get offers and visit the destination when there are few more. But the more passengers there are, the higher the demand – so hotels can often charge more (not to mention that inflation has also increased fares).

Where to find fewer people out of season

For those looking for shoulder and off-season trips and deals like the old ones, timing and flexibility are key.

According to Expedia Travel Hacks from 2022 report (issued in November 2021 in cooperation with Airline Reporting Corporation), January is the cheapest month for departures on domestic flights, which saves about 10 percent (OK, so not for this year, but it should be noted for 2023 and later). August is the most affordable time to travel abroad (about 20 percent cheaper). Similarly, the lowest average daily rate for accommodation usually occurs on Mondays, where passengers can save more than 15 percent compared to staying on Friday, the most expensive day. On international trips, staying on Tuesday instead of Thursday will save almost 10 percent.

As for where you’re going, Lien noted that destinations like Lake Powell (in Utah and Arizona), Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah, and Boulder National Park in Colorado are good and cheaper alternatives to national parks like Yosemite and Zion. Orange County and San Diego in California, Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach in Florida and Costa Rica tend to be more affordable than the beaches of Mexico and the Caribbean for those looking for a vacation in the sand and sun.

Although it is impossible to predict whether the off-season will be a thing of the past in the coming years, Freitag has noticed one wrinkle that is likely to move the calendar back to normal: the school year.

“As more schools return to consistent classroom learning, more people will once again be associated with the main seasons, driven by the school calendar,” Freitag said. “We’ll have to see how it turns out.”

Reopening other countries perhaps also reduce pressure on destinations. But if you ask Burke, she will tell you that her company believes it is “a trend that will continue when the world opens up.”

>> Next: Where to go in 2022

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