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A preview into the new guest as hotel bookings surpass a third of 2019 levels

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder



Even as we’ve watched bookings trend upwards over the last six weeks, I know the sentiment felt across the global travel and hospitality industry has remained fairly sombre. Yet, the World Hotel Index is a reminder that the human desire to travel is growing once again, as markets reopen, state by state.

And, as of today, as hotel bookings worldwide surpass a third of last year’s levels, it also tells us that the post-COVID guest isn’t a fabrication. Thanks to new indicators within the World Hotel Index, not only can we see how booking volumes are changing; we can now see when the guests behind those bookings will be arriving and where they will be coming from. And, the current data shows us that the new guest wants to travel soon – as quickly as this month or next.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said she “did a little dance” this past Monday, as coronavirus cases in the country went from one to zero. She may not have been alone in that celebration. In the last two weeks, hotel bookings in New Zealand have shot up from 52.79% YoY to 72.84% YoY, and we now know through the World Hotel Index that nearly three-in-four of those bookings are for stays during this month and July. Additionally, with the country’s COVID-free status placing more pressure on the formation of a trans-Tasman travel bubble, we’re likely to see international guests make up a greater percentage of arrivals sooner rather than later.

We are seeing a similar trend emerging in Europe where Ireland more than tripled its year-over-year figure this past week, from 12.98% YoY to 43.49% YoY, after it was announced that locals could recommence travelling anywhere in their county. Hotels in Ireland are set to reopen at the end of June, and local holidaymakers aren’t wasting any time. Of all bookings made within the last two weeks, more than 70% are for stays during July and August.

Across continental Europe, the five other fast risers over the past week were:

  • Czech Republic: from 16.64% YoY to 30.86% YoY (85.46% WoW)
  • Sweden: from 22.70% YoY to 41.08% YoY (80.97% WoW)
  • Netherlands: from 33.19% YoY to 51.17% YoY (54.17% WoW)
  • France: from 22.56% YoY to 33.94% YoY (50.44% WoW)
  • Malta: from 12.51% YoY to 18.39% YoY (47.00% WoW).

Alongside the Netherlands, Germany has broken through the halfway barrier, with hotel bookings now sitting at 52.17% of last year’s volumes. With the European Commission calling on member states to lift all border restrictions by the end of June, and several nations—including France and Belgium—announcing the reopening of their borders, we can expect more European nations to follow suit over the coming week.

A number of cities around the world have also passed the halfway point, including Miami in the United States, where hotel bookings have surged to 56.33% of last year’s levels.

Within Asia, Taiwan’s hotel bookings are now almost back to their volumes this same time last year. Taiwan still leads the world in momentum, with bookings at 94.83% YoY. Four-in-five of those bookings are for stays this month and July. Other countries within the region continue to face hardships, including Singapore and the Philippines which remain well below 10% in hotel booking volumes.

The guest journey remains unchanged, but with a new lens into the post-COVID guest, we are wiser for knowing that today’s traveller is a minimalist when it comes to planning. And, for good reason, as we all continue to reflect on how rapidly our world has changed. I encourage all hoteliers to take note. The trend of last-minute bookings is truer now than ever before.

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