July Fourth falls on a Wednesday this year, and experts look at how that might affect business for hotels.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—This year’s July Fourth holiday in the United States falls on a Wednesday, but experts are predicting leisure travel will see a boost, despite a loss in corporate and group business.
Bill Sutherland, SVP of travel and publishing for AAA, said about 46.9 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home for the July Fourth week, a 5% year-over-year lift. AAA considers the holiday week to start on 3 July and run through 8 July.
“This year is the largest number of travelers over Independence Day weekend since we’ve recorded this (for) at least 18 years,” he said. “It means Americans are getting out there; they’re not being held back by anything.”
With the holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, he said it gives travelers the choice to either vacation the first weekend up to and including the holiday, or start on Tuesday of the holiday week and go through the weekend.
Joseph Rael, director, consulting and analytics, at Hotel News Now’s parent company STR, said midweek holidays like July Fourth aren’t great for hoteliers. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are two of the best days for corporate and group travel, he said, and most people will avoid scheduling business trips over the holiday.
Leisure travel, though, typically increases, he said. Last year July Fourth fell on a Tuesday and travelers were able to take Monday off for a long weekend. This year leisure travel might be a bit lower than it normally is for the holiday due to it falling on a Wednesday, he added.
Occupancy for this time last year was down 3% at 65.5% compared to 2016, Rael said.
Consumer confidence, lower airfare
Sutherland said a few factors contribute to the number of people traveling over this period, including consumer confidence and lower airfares.
“I think Americans are seeing improvements in the economy, have a bit more disposable income to use, and (given) the whole trend today about travelling for experiences (means) people will pay more for those experiences,” he said.
While gas prices are almost $.60 higher per gallon than last year, that has not deterring road travelers, he said. The average airfare, however, is down 9% year over year.
He added that July Fourth’s travel prediction numbers are even higher than Memorial Day’s.
“(While) two doesn’t make a trend, we’re … anticipating a pretty vibrant summer of travel, but we’re not predicting it statistically,” he said.
How Omni Bedford Springs is preparing
Bill Liedholm, GM of the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, in Bedford, Pennsylvania, said based on last year’s performance his property will see travelers not only coming for July Fourth but also the weekends before and after.
When preparing for a holiday week, he said the first thing his team does is look at the previous year’s activities hosted by the resort and the guest participation involved.
He said they might modify activities or extend hours to accommodate more guests. It also depends on the day in which the holiday falls, he said.
“If it’s on a Friday, there’s typically more we can partner with in the community than there is in this case on a Wednesday,” he said.
Each year Omni Bedford Springs will shuttle guests to and from downtown Bedford’s July Fourth festivities and fireworks, he added. The resort also hosts a barbecue by the pool, “which is something found to be very popular,” he said.
According to the resort’s website, Independence Day activities will run through 8 July, including horseback riding, archery, haunted history tours and cooking classes.
For its peak season, which July Fourth falls between, he said the resort beefs up its amount of staff to ensure operations are running smoothly.
“We’ve got a tremendous workforce here and oftentimes people enjoy working here just during peak times like holidays,” Liedholm said. “All of our operations are open for the summertime.”