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A year in travel like no other

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder


Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 11.57.42 pm

It seems only fitting that we end the year on a high note.

As we speak, various coronavirus vaccines are on their way to being rolled out in numerous markets, if not already being administered in some.

While the vaccines are naturally under scrutiny, we can celebrate what they promise to the world of travel.

Certainly, it’s that promise that’s seen year-on-year hotel booking volumes more than double in multiple countries this past month, including Ireland, where thousands of vaccine doses have been delivered and, subsequently, where the hotel booking momentum now sits at 70.95% YoY to mark an increase of over 130% MoM.

Here in the Pacific, we can also celebrate two impending, quarantine-free travel bubbles, including that between New Zealand and the Cook Islands where hotel bookings have largely remained below 20% YoY since mid-March. They have now risen to nearly 42% YoY, which is terrific news for the islands where international tourism plays such a critical role to the economy.

The other impending travel bubble, of course, is between New Zealand and those of us here in Australia, where one of the world’s most profitable flight routes, the Melbourne-Sydney route, reopened three weeks ago. I reported earlier this year that hotels in Melbourne and Sydney were struggling to compete for guests, as we witnessed travellers opting for a nearby coastal or regional town destination rather than a densely-populated major city. Today, hotel booking volumes within Melbourne and Sydney sit at 55.6% YoY and 73.7% YoY, respectively, having doubled since the flight route reopened, and we’re sure to see those volumes further increase as excitement among our neighbours in New Zealand builds.

Speaking of future plans, mid-February is shaping up to be a popular time for travel across continental Europe, with the World Hotel Index showing clear spikes in arrivals in France, Italy, Malta, Netherlands and Portugal. Mid-February of course marks not only Valentine’s Day, but school holidays, half terms and Carnival in many countries. Hotels in the region would be well served to consider marketing campaigns now, in anticipation.

It’s quite surreal that we’re only days away from putting the year of 2020 behind us.

Ordinarily, I’d be counting down to our end-of-year celebrations at SiteMinder, where I’d have the chance to thank all our wonderful team members in person.

I sadly won’t get that chance this year, but what I do have is this opportunity to thank not only all of our people at SiteMinder, but all of you who have followed our updates this year, and are supporting both the travel industry and local businesses in your own way.

From the rise of last-minute bookings, to the growing divide between urban areas and regional towns, and of course the five stages of the hotel booking reset, SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index has allowed us to bring you a little closer to the purview of today’s traveller and the journey ahead of us.

I hope that by sharing these updates, we have been able to do our small part to help the industry that we love, and we look forward to bringing you more in the new year.

Until then, on behalf of the entire team at SiteMinder, I wish you all a very safe Christmas and holiday season. Please take care and I’ll speak to you again in 2021.

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