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Global bookings top 40% YoY as more travellers make a dash for the road

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder



It’s been said that week-on-week growth is the new year-on-year for revenue managers. Certainly, we are living in a time when it’s become hard to plan ahead more than a few days. I mentioned last week that today’s traveller is a minimalist when it comes to planning, and yet, hotel revenue in many parts of the world remains limited by government-approved headcounts.

No matter which metric is most important to your business today, what we can be sure of is that hotel bookings globally continue to trend upwards, now past 40% of their volume this same time last year.

In mid-May, as governments around the world began loosening travel restrictions, we predicted that many consumers would act to travel again at the soonest possible moment. That prediction was affirmed last week, as we introduced the guest horizon into the World Hotel Index and saw how travellers from countries such as New Zealand and Taiwan had already begun booking stays for this month or next.

That trend has been reaffirmed over the past week, led by Malaysia where nearly all activities have resumed after a three-month lockdown. Malaysians can now travel domestically and, with that freedom, we can see that of all bookings made within the last two weeks, three-in-four are for stays this month and July. Nation-wide, hotel bookings in Malaysia soared from 30.48% YoY to 41.6% YoY this past week to become our fastest riser. However, the continued closure of the country’s international borders may not be great news for hotels around the world. Like Indonesia, Malaysia is not allowing citizens to make the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, in Saudia Arabia. The restriction begs questions around the state of the multi-billion-dollar religious tourism industry in a post-COVID world, as, without doubt, hotels in countries such as Italy, India, Israel and Nepal, which also attract millions of religious travellers each year, will be impacted.

On the flipside, Thailand is looking at allowing one thousand foreign visitors to enter the country daily, from countries such as Japan, Australia and New Zealand which have done well to contain the coronavirus. Business travellers are among the target group, which is welcome news for local hotels that are currently missing corporate business, and interestingly the World Hotel Index shows us that international travellers form around 80% of all arrivals in Thailand between August and January.

Twelve countries around the world have now taken over the average hotel booking volume globally, including New Zealand, which now sits at 77.48% YoY; the United States, at 58.05%; the Netherlands, at 57.95%; and Ireland, at 45.03% YoY.

By contrast, while other countries in the Pacific are quickly recovering through new domestic trips, Fiji and Vanuatu, which rely almost entirely on international tourism, continue to remain below 8% when it comes to hotel bookings. South Africa and Chile are also still challenged to hit 10% of 2019 hotel booking levels, and although we are starting to see slight movement in the UK, the country’s hotel bookings remain sub 15% YoY.

In one week, both Miami and Tampa in Florida have shot up from 52.55% YoY to 83.32% YoY, and 110.03% YoY to 124.01% YoY, respectively. Similarly, Koh Samui in Thailand rose from 28.99% YoY to 41.11% YoY, indicating perhaps that as we all look to recover from this pandemic, beach time is on the minds of many travellers.

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