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Travel Amnesia: Hilton IDs New Pandemic Condition

Survey sees travel becoming a fading memory for many Americans

After some six months of lockdown through the ongoing global pandemic, it may be no surprise that Americans are not only missing travel right now, they are struggling to remember what it felt like.

But for all that forgetting, Americans say travel is their most frequently-recalled happy memory, more than special occasions or personal achievements, and the majority cite creating lasting memories as a primary motive for trips, according to a new study* conducted on behalf of Hilton.

With so much staying at home, 90 percent of survey respondents admitted to believing that the nation is facing a travel memory deficit that will have long-lasting impact, including greater stress and missed opportunity for special moments with loved ones.

With this thought in mind a majority of those surveyed said they are already looking ahead to making their next travel memory, as 94 percent of Americans surveyed are planning to travel again. And two-thirds vow to quit putting off taking trips and make their dream vacations a reality.

“Travel is an unstoppable force, and we know consumers are eager to reconnect with the people and places they love,” said Danny Hughes, executive vice president and president, Americas, Hilton. “Hilton is ready to welcome guests back with all the assurances they need – best-in-class hospitality, cleanliness and flexibility – to create their new memories whenever they are ready to be out and traveling again.”

In pace with this tectonic shift in travel attitudes, Hilton is debuting a new global marketing campaign, “To New Memories.” This new campaign encompasses TV ads, online videos and other digital and social content that is intended to encourage travelers to make new memories with Hilton.

The video content depicts a series of reconnection moments consumers have been missing, highlighting the new memories waiting to be made with Hilton. “To New Memories” has been rolled out across the globe during the past six weeks. The US creative originally debuted on social media, followed by television commercials and online videos that are airing now.

The survey results provide details about how US consumers are thinking differently about travel. With the travel memory deficit at the forefront of consumers’ minds, a pent-up demand to travel is bubbling over: Two-thirds (66 percent) of those travelers surveyed will quit putting off special trips they have always wanted to take and almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those looking to travel again will choose more relaxing travel over adventure travel.

New travel memories are on the horizon for many. According to the survey, eight in 10 (80 percent) travelers will prioritize creating new travel memories when they choose to travel again. Among travelers who plan to travel again, over one-third of Americans surveyed (39 percent) plan to travel more than they previously did once travel restrictions are lifted and three in five (62 percent) will be more adventurous by journeying to brand new places to make travel memories.

Lest We Forget

Significant survey results:

Collecting Travel Memories: American travelers say making memories with loved ones is one of the most important reasons they travel (63 percent), second only to traveling for relaxation.

Travel as Self-Care: More than three-quarters (76 percent) believe their travel memories have helped shape who they are today, while almost one in three (29 percent) travelers reported their favorite travel memory stands out because they felt like they were their “best self.”

Happy Travelers: Nearly seven in 10 surveyed (69 percent) say travel has given them lifelong memories; nine in 10 count travel memories as some of their happiest memories; and female travelers are more likely than male travelers to have gathered memories from travel they say they will remember forever (73 percent vs. 64 percent).

Destination: Memories: About seven in 10 (71 percent) travelers surveyed say their trips have been made memorable by the destination itself.

Travel Buddies are Better: Of those surveyed, nearly three in five (57 percent) Americans who travel believe that the people who accompany them are what make their trips unforgettable.

Back in the Day: Among a variety of childhood memories, one-third (33 percent) of Americans surveyed remember those about special trips and travel with their family the most often; more than those who think about memories tied to holiday celebrations or even family traditions.

Intangible Travel Benefits: Close to one in two travelers surveyed said trips have given them an appreciation of nature (47 percent) or a way to take a break from work or study (46 percent). A similar number (44 percent) link travel to improved relationships with their friends and family and believe they’ve even gained a feeling of gratitude for what they have in their lives (44 percent).

Treasured Memories: Among travelers, 54 percent surveyed said travel memories are more important than their favorite piece of jewelry, while 53 percent say those memories are more important than their smartphone.

Hotel Happiness: Almost all (91 percent) travelers surveyed agree hotels help make a trip memorable for them, most notably for being able to wake up next to a view (62 percent).

A Hotel Called Hope

To help ease the travel memory deficit, Hilton is offering new programs and rewards to make it easier for consumers to plan their next memory including:

Contactless Arrival: Through the Hilton Honors app and award-winning Digital Key technology, members have the option for a contactless arrival experience. At thousands of participating hotels, guests can bypass the front desk by using their mobile phones to choose their room, check in, unlock their door and check-out. Any guest can easily join the Hilton Honors program and download the free app to take advantage of contactless arrival options.

Hilton CleanStay: The industry-leading Hilton CleanStay program which was launched in July, sets a new standard of hotel cleanliness and disinfection. The program was created in collaboration with Lysol® and Dettol® maker RB and Mayo Clinic and has been implemented globally across Hilton’s 18 brands.

More flexible reservation and cancellation policies: Hilton hotels offer flexible booking options with individual reservations booked on or after Oct. 1, 2020, able to be changed or canceled at no charge, up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day. Some exclusions may apply. Guests should always refer to the property’s Rate Details for applicable terms or exceptions, if any, when booking or changing reservations.

Hilton Honors points and status extensions: Hilton supports its loyal guests with new Hilton Honors policies that have been updated to provide that in-demand flexibility factor for its members and to help them maintain their tier status and Points in this exceptional year.

These adjustments include extending 2019 member status through March 31, 2021 and 2020 member status through March 31, 2022. All points expiration will be paused through the end of 2020. The expiration date on unexpired Weekend Night Rewards earned on eligible Hilton Credit Cards as of March 11, 2020 and all newly earned Weekend Night Rewards through Aug. 30, 2020 are extended through Aug. 31, 2021. Lastly, all nights earned between Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 will automatically roll over to the 2021 calendar year and count toward 2021-2023 tier status qualification.

Double rewards: A “Double Rewards” global promotion running through Dec. 31, 2020, provides eligible members with the ability to earn double Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay as well as double-night credits, meaning every night a member stays counts twice towards earning their next tier status, plus even more points to use toward a future hotel stay.

Guests can book their new memories directly with Hilton through any official Hilton website or call center, the Hilton Honors app, at a Hilton property or through an accredited travel agent. Until the end of 2020, guests can take advantage of Hilton’s new “Double Rewards” global promotion.

Dream Away: Hilton’s Dream Away promotion makes guests’ next memory making getaway closer than they think. Consumers can save at hotels across the globe and enjoy the flexibility of early check-in, late check-out and early departure, where available, if they need to change their plans. Whether a guest wants to stay close to home or explore a new corner of the world, they can make their getaway dreams a reality with Hilton’s Dream Away offer.

*The Kelton Global conducted the survey online among 2,030 Americans aged 18 and older in the United States during the period of Sept. 7- 14, 2020.