Everything is more expensive at the moment, and unfortunately for holiday travelers, that definitely includes hotel rooms.
As USA Today reported, the price of a hotel room has hit a record high this year, owing partially to pent-up demand, "as the average daily room rate, or ADR, the week of July 4 was $139.84 – 5.4% higher than the comparable week in 2019."
Hotel prices have only gone up since the summer, as AAA reports, with hotel prices that increased about 39% this year, "with average nightly rates ranging between $137 and $172 for AAA Approved Hotels."
Alex Miller, founder and CEO of the travel site UpgradedPoints.com, says this trend will only continue in the holiday season.
"Likely, a lot more," he says. "Gas prices are up, labor shortages abound, and demand is through the roof. These all combined together equal the necessity for fares to rise significantly.
"We’re seeing some percentage changes from 2019, as low as just a couple percentage points to well over 100%,” he says. “Leisure destinations are seeing the highest increases, versus big cities."
But while hotel rooms are going to cost more this year, Miller doesn't expect the increase in price to dampen consumer's enthusiasm to travel.
"There’s extreme pent-up demand from close to a year or two of no travel," he says, "and people want to get out to see family and friends."
AAA says that not only is travel back to the pre-pandemic levels, but it is predicting that 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
That's which up 13% from 2020 and the highest single-year increase since 2005. If anything, there's too many people who want to travel and not enough places to stay, as the currently understaffed hotel industry doesn't have enough rooms for everyone.
"We’re seeing a higher demand for travel now, combined with some limited capacity," he says "In some cases, there aren’t enough housekeepers to service rooms, so because of that the price of what is sellable goes up. Some of it is in fact due to inflation. For example, ordering toiletries, food and other items increases costs on the hotels."
But even though everything is more expensive now, experts say that those who want to travel will just swallow the extra cost after not going anywhere last year. Many people have planned for the added expense.
"People save money just to travel. They are willing to collect cash just to get out of mundane daily routines," says Jeremy Hulls, senior editor at Family Destinations Guide. "Great travel is all about the experience. And people are willing to pay extra for that."
So if you're bound and determined to travel and stay in a hotel this year, cost be damned, there are a few steps you can take to avoid paying through the nose. Or at least only paying through one nostril, as it were. It won't be a cheap experience, but there's ways to lessen the cost according to Tim Hentschel, Co-Founder & CEO, HotelPlanner.
"The best way to keep costs down for you and your family this holiday season is to book all your travel and accommodations as early as possible to try to lock in lower rates," Hentschel says.
"Search and book during non-peak hours such as midnight or 6 a.m., and consider less expensive or less popular destinations," he says. "Fortunately, there are plenty of three-star and medium service hotels across the country that can still feel like a luxury hotel stay at a much more reasonable price.”
Miller also has advice.
"Be mindful of discounts you can take advantage of. That may be health care rates, AAA, government discounts, military discounts, etc. These can save hundreds off of a single hotel stay," he says, "and use frequent flyer miles and hotel points instead of paying cash."
And if the high price of, well, everything, has you down, take heart. Remember that nothing lasts forever, including inflation, and next year things might finally start getting back to normal. Better late than never, right?
"Likely, things will settle, and some economists predict this will happen mid 2022," he says. "Inevitably, gas production will increase, COVID-19 will end, and prices will begin to level out and fall."