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Hilton sees record bookings in line with travel surge that could make 2021 bigger than 2019

June 02, 2021
4 min read
Hilton sees record bookings in line with travel surge that could make 2021 bigger than 2019
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It's no secret that travel is exploding this year, with pent-up demand driving a flurry of bookings. In fact, 2021 could see even higher levels of travel than 2019 did at its peak.

In an interview with CNBC, Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said the chain's hotels throughout the U.S. were at nearly 93% occupancy over Memorial Day weekend — the highest point since the start of the pandemic.

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Travel bookings are surging this spring as vaccination rates increase and travelers release pent-up demand for trips. (Photo by Mixmike/Getty Images)

"Our bookings for this summer, at this point, are higher than we saw in 2019 at the peak," Nassetta said. "People are getting out. They are feeling safer as vaccination rates go up, and it should be a really good summer for travel."

Nassetta's report is good news, but it's hardly surprising, given other travel trends we've noticed this year. So far, we've seen surges in Hawaii and Alaska bookings and increasing demand for camping and visits to national parks.

Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta says the brand saw a 93% occupancy rate during Memorial Day weekend. Nassetta believes 2021 travel could outpace peak travel in 2019. (Photo by sefa ozel/Getty Images)

Plus, Italy, Greece and many other countries are open to Americans, and major cities like Las Vegas have also fully reopened, with Sin City seeing so many visitors that traffic was backed up for 26 miles last weekend.

Airlines are also seeing a dramatic upswing in booking numbers, allowing them to inch closer to breaking even after more than a year of burning through as much as $100 million in cash per day to keep fleets operational while weathering greatly reduced capacity.

That, of course, ties into trends seen by credit card companies, such as Amex, which said spending was at pre-pandemic levels earlier this year, with travel spiking 50% in mid-May.

Camping has become more popular during the pandemic, offering isolation while on the road. (Photo by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)

But there are still hiccups to be worked out. Staffing and rental car shortages, along with the lack of standardized international travel health requirements, are leading to long waits at some airports, and testing snags have also caused problems for some travelers.

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If you have plans to stay at a Hilton property this summer, be sure to learn everything there is to know about the Hilton Honors program so you can maximize your points-earning potential. The brand is currently running a "More Nights, More Points" promotion where you can earn double points on stays of one or two nights and three times the bonus points on stays of three nights or longer. The promotion runs through Sept. 6, 2021.

The brand has extended the deadline for all expiring points through Dec. 31, 2021, giving you plenty of time to cash in any you have saved. Hilton also recently announced that it would extend the deadline for expiring free-night certificates through January 2022.

Featured image by Getty Images/Westend61
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

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Recommended Credit

740-850
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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more