For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spanish hotels are currently set to welcome more guests from outside the country than from within Spain during October, according to SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index.
As of October 1, international hotel guests will make up 52,46% of all hotel guest arrivals due this month in Spain – a figure which is set to increase to 71,9% at the start of next year. In comparison, international hotel guests comprised only 29.1% of the country’s hotel arrivals in May and 39.34% in August.
The data from SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index—sourced from the company’s open hotel commerce platform, used by 34,000 hotels and connected to more than 400 hotel booking channels globally—reveals Spain could be entering the final stage of the ‘hotel booking reset’, a process identified by SiteMinder to involve a market undergoing five stages of recovery before returning to a sense of normalcy.
Spain has been a leader in Europe’s tourism recovery so far, with hotel bookings that bounced back to pre-pandemic levels on June 29, 2021, and since then have remained close to or above numbers for the same date in 2019.
Signs of more equitable distribution of travel
Further cause for optimism is the fact that Spain’s recovery is not concentrated in a few geographical areas, but distributed across the country. Certainly, coastal destinations continue to perform best, with hotel bookings in Malaga currently at 107,73% of 2019 numbers after having peaked at 120.31% of these in September, which reflects a sustained trend among travellers to prioritise beachside holidays and traditional summer favourites as a response to pent-up demand.
However, hotel bookings in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona are also performing strongly, sitting at 96,14% and 95,17% of 2019 volumes respectively, and surpassing other iconic European destinations, including Paris (81,58%), Amsterdam (75,56%) and Rome (69,03%). For its part, Seville comfortably surpassed its 2019 booking numbers in September, reaching a height of 104.47% of these.
This shows that since the start of the pandemic, Spain’s recovery has become increasingly geographically diversified, and not limited to a small number of destinations.
Online commerce technology: a powerful ally of hoteliers
Both domestic and international travellers to Spain continue to book at short notice, with almost two thirds (65.84%) of hotel bookings made in the last two weeks being for October. This reflects the findings of SiteMinder’s Changing Traveller Report—both in Spain and other major European source markets for Spanish hotels, such as the UK, Germany and France—which show travellers prioritising flexibility when booking accommodation, in light of ongoing uncertainty around travel allowances and restrictions.
The report found that a large majority of travellers plan to travel more or the same as before Covid, expect higher accommodation standards and value for money, and do not oppose their personal data being used to improve guest experience.
“Spain has been a leading driver of the Europe-wide return of both domestic and international travel. Now, with international guests forming the majority of hotel arrivals due in October, which is a first since the pandemic, the country’s hotel industry can celebrate another important milestone,” says Sara Padrosa, Country Manager for Spain at SiteMinder.
Adds Padrosa: “While this is exciting news, hoteliers would be wise to prepare for customers who are not only increasingly diverse in terms of country of origin, but in many ways changed from the guests they were accustomed to before the pandemic. The evolved ‘dynamic traveller’ that we have identified through our research is discerning, price-conscious and expects flexibility. One way hoteliers can prepare for this is by using commerce technology to optimise their communications strategies, broaden how they market and sell their rooms online, and use data to better understand and engage their guests.”