RateGain data shows a surge in U.S. car rental bookings toward the end of December,  - Graph courtesy of RateGain.

RateGain data shows a surge in U.S. car rental bookings toward the end of December, 

Graph courtesy of RateGain.

On a volume basis, the 50th week of 2020 — Dec. 7 to 13 — was the best week for car rental rates in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, with overall bookings reaching 83% of 2019 levels.

This was one of the key findings in the January edition of Pulse, RateGain’s state of the travel industry report. The report captures booking movements as well as social media travel-based activity trends.

Since the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 17, activity picked up again, driven by last-minute bookings for the long New Year’s weekend.   

New York, SFO, New Orleans, and Las Vegas saw the highest recovery in December when compared to November, with New Orleans registering a 139% month-over-month increase in bookings, New York 111%, SFO 90%, and Las Vegas 89%. While bookings in SFO surged, other major cities in California continued to decline even in December, particularly in Los Angeles, followed by San Diego and San Jose.

The report also uses Facebook and Instagram data to understand travel intent and hotel activity.

An analysis of over 750,000 hotel guest messages on social media shows that guests in the U.S. have fewer concerns or demands now when visiting a hotel than in the summer, with the conclusion that guests now trust hotels more while planning their travel. Miami and San Francisco hotels saw the most engagement in November and December.

 Social media messages related to “travel planning” was at its highest since March, while, thankfully, December saw the lowest number of politics-related messages since June.

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