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Global hotel bookings dip for the first time since March

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder


Three weeks ago, we introduced the world to the four stages of hotel booking recovery that we had been witnessing since the outbreak of the pandemic in March. Among those stages was Deceleration or Plateau, which had occurred only within individual countries up until that point. However, we knew the time would come when we would inevitably see a deceleration or plateau at a global level also. That time came this past week, as global hotel bookings dropped marginally for the first time since March, from 52.36% YoY to 51.56% YoY.

While incremental, the drop represents a pivotal moment, as it reminds us about both the seriousness of the coronavirus and the fickle nature of consumer confidence that comes with an ongoing health crisis. The correlation is evident in many countries where cities and states have re-entered travel lockdowns amid new waves of COVID-19 cases.

The United States is perhaps the most visible example of this. After experiencing a six-week growth in hotel bookings, the country has seen COVID-19 cases accelerate in a number of states, including Florida, which was dubbed the next epicentre in mid-June. Since then, Miami’s booking volumes have plummeted from 87% of last year’s levels to 33%, where it has remained for nearly two weeks.

Similarly, Australia’s hotel booking momentum has continued to drop for more than a week, brought down by Melbourne, which is back in a lockdown after a second wave of coronavirus cases exceeded the city’s first peak in March. Melbourne’s booking momentum has dropped almost 75% over the last three weeks.

Within Asia, Hong Kong has imposed tough new restrictions this past week, after a spike in coronavirus cases threatened to undo months of success. The new restrictions have further impacted an already-decreasing volume of hotel bookings, which now sit at 48.23% YoY after hitting a high of 61.77% YoY earlier this month.

Finally, in Europe, the Segrià region of Spain re-entered a partial lockdown on 4 July and, with that, the country’s total volume of hotel bookings have dropped from 62.9% YoY to 58.46% YoY.

Defying the odds is the UK, which ranks as our second-fastest riser for the second consecutive week in spite of Leicester entering a lockdown. Hotel booking volumes in the UK have risen from 31.74% YoY to 48.74% YoY during the last two weeks and, of all bookings made during the period, at least four-in-five have been for stays between now and September.

Only Sweden outpaced the UK this week, experiencing 27.39% growth to reach 72.13% of last year’s levels – and proving the continued success of the Nordics in containing the spread of COVID-19.

In other positive news from the Nordics, Norway’s hotel bookings have now climbed consistently for three months to 92.39% YoY, so we could be speaking soon about the first country to not only reach, but surpass, 2019 levels since March. Ireland and Malaysia, too, aren’t far behind. They now sit at 84.47% YoY and 81% YoY, respectively.

As I write this, a new wave of coronavirus looms for my home city of Sydney, so hotel booking recovery here may have to restart again soon. It’s all a part of the new cycle, and while we don’t know when it will end, we can feel comforted that we’re all a part of an industry that’s proven its strength and resilience like never before.

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