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We’re witnessing the four stages of hotel booking recovery

By Mike Ford, Founder and Managing Director at SiteMinder



Since the outbreak of the pandemic, what the travel and hospitality industries have wanted to learn most is: how will our industries recover? Only time will tell when the health crisis will end and which travel bubbles may be formed in the meantime. But what we do know through the World Hotel Index is not only the growing desire to travel, but the real intention of doing so. And, it’s through this data that we now know the hotel booking cycle will generally go through four key stages until it returns to a new sense of normal.

Following government announcements on when travel restrictions will lift, the four general stages of the hotel booking cycle are:

  1. Domestic acceleration

    As we’ve reported since April, concrete indicators of lockdowns being lifted are followed by a strong burst of excitement among consumers. That excitement translates into an immediate rise in hotel bookings and, due to the current state of markets, the vast majority are domestic.

    Cases in point are France, Spain, Italy and Canada which have all seen steady rises in hotel bookings nation-wide since gradually reopening their economies. France and Spain overtook the global average this past week, and both now sit at 48% YoY. Of all bookings for this month of June, four-in-five in both countries have been made by locals.

  2. Deceleration or plateau

    While there’s been a renewed interest in domestic trips around the world, it is naturally difficult for domestic travel, alone, to see hotel markets completely return to last year’s levels. The pandemic has impacted the confidence and financial situations of many individuals, forced international borders to close, and put a stop to group bookings. For this reason, the initial excitement among consumers is followed by a deceleration or plateauing of hotel bookings, as we’re currently witnessing in Germany and Ireland where bookings have slowed momentarily for nearly two weeks. Already, we’re witnessing the same in Thailand and hope the Thai Government’s US$720 million domestic tourism stimulus package will go a long way to accelerating recovery.

  3. Destabilisation

    Whether it be due to increased cases in coronavirus, or other political or societal challenges—or perhaps a simple die down in euphoria—our data is illustrating the very real human behaviour of withdrawal. We are seeing this now in markets such as the United States and Mexico, where coronavirus cases are sadly gaining speed. Florida is reported to be the next epicentre for coronavirus and, with that speculation, we can see that hotel bookings in both Miami and Tampa have dropped after rising rapidly and then slowing.

  4. International acceleration

    While we are yet to see this first-hand (and it may be many months before we do), we predict another acceleration, as international borders reopen, will form the final stage in the road to hotel booking recovery.

We’re a week away from many of the (previously) most visited places in the world opening up further in some form. On 1 July, we will see free movement recommence between Portugal and Spain, and between France and countries outside the EU. Commercial airlines will resume in the Maldives, and all businesses will reopen in Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales.

Next Saturday will also mark the reopening of the UK’s hotels, pubs, campsites and holiday cottages. And, already, we can see an increase in booking activity there, with bookings moving from 13.2% of 2019 booking levels to 17.5% over the last week.

So, who knows? Our world is moving faster than ever before. We may be witness to new or upended trends this same time next week.

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