DestinationsAsia Pacific and Europe travellers are moving at two speeds, according to SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index.

A tale of two regions has emerged in global hotel industry recovery

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Global recovery of hotel bookings have plateaued but the last-minute booking trend is still going strong in domestic markets.
Global recovery of hotel bookings have plateaued but the last-minute booking trend is still going strong in domestic markets. Photo Credit: Viktor_Gladkov/Getty Images

For the first time since mid-March, SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index showed that hotel bookings globally rose to above 55% of 2019 levels on 6 September, before dropping back to 54.7% YoY three days later to mark the tenth week that hotel bookings remained in the plateaued (second) stage of global recovery.

In spite of the stalled momentum at a global level, however, SiteMinder, the global hotel industry’s leading guest acquisition platform, says the last-minute booking trend that it has been reporting since June has not. The last-minute trend continues in markets all around the world, including in Cambodia where 80% of hotel bookings made in the last two weeks are for stays during the remaining days of September.

The growth of Christmas and New Year’s Eve hotel bookings is the only one trend that is bucking the last-minute booking trend though. That week is now visible as a clear spike in multiple countries, including Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam in Asia; Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific; and Barbados and Canada in the Americas.

“It seems the world is keen to end 2020 on a high note, and usher in a fresh new year,” said Mike Ford, managing director at SiteMinder.

SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index shows that a similar pattern is emerging in Europe. Only two weeks after the summer-end, booking spikes are appearing for the summer months of 2021, in the Nordic nations of Denmark, Finland and Norway, as well as Portugal and Italy.

“It’s clear that Covid hasn’t completely deterred plans for enjoying beach weather and, interestingly, international travellers have been behind half of all bookings made within most of those countries over the past month,” said Ford.

“Could we be learning to live with Covid? Perhaps in Europe, we are. In spite of new coronavirus outbreaks across the continent, hotel booking volumes have continued to climb to 65.5% YoY in Germany, and the destabilisation occurring in Spain, France and the UK is far from the drastic dip we saw in March. Two cities within the UK are, in fact, back to pre-pandemic levels. They are Brighton (102% YoY) and Bournemouth (99.8% YoY), which are both a two-hour drive from the London city centre.”

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By contrast, SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index shows a different picture in the Asia-Pacific where government restrictions around international travel remain steadfast. Singapore, which has struggled to rise above 20% of last year’s levels, is the latest market to incentivise domestic travel with a staycation stimulus. In spite of zero locally-transmitted coronavirus cases in three months, Thailand is introducing a “special tourist visa” scheme that appeals only to foreigners willing to stay a minimum of 90 days. 

The cautious measures could be working, with Asia contributing three out of five of the fastest risers on the World Hotel Index this past month:
1. Vietnam: from 9.85% YoY to 25.1% YoY (+154.82% MoM)
2. Philippines: from 6.05% YoY to 14.24% YoY (+135.37% MoM)
3. Barbados: from 22.22% YoY to 44.39% YoY (+99.77% MoM)
4. South Africa: from 37.49% YoY to 65.05% YoY (+73.51% MoM)
5. Sri Lanka: from 20.58% YoY to 31.52% YoY (+53.16% MoM).

“Will 2021 bring the change that we’re all hoping for? Only time will tell. In the meantime, what we know is that Covid-19 has created a world operating at two speeds – one faster and internationally-focused, and the other slower and domestically-focused – both designed to find balance and normalcy where there is none,” said Ford.

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