SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index Sheds Light on New Traveller Behaviour

Main Photo: A comparative report, available instantly, in this case Booking Momentum by Country, where we chose Australia, France, Germany, UK and USA

Date: September 2020

Location: Global

Who’s Saying What: SiteMinder…an Australian HQ global company, well-known to hoteliers, perhaps less so in the hotel investment world, has a fab tool that will be of interest to our readers…

The world was a different place in 2006 when SiteMinder was founded. For starters, OTAs were only starting to flourish and few hotels had figured out how to get their rooms on this thing called ‘the internet’.

The world of travel, especially online, has of course continued to explode since then and SiteMinder grew with it, securing 35,000 hotel customers across 160 countries along the way to become the global hotel industry’s leading platform for acquiring guests.

Yet, from asking ‘how much can I earn from my next guest?’ as recently as February, SiteMinder’s founder, Mike Ford, says that today hoteliers are asking ‘when will I see my guests again?’

To allow all players within the hospitality and travel industries to track hotel recovery as it happens, the company has created the World Hotel Index, an aerial view of all the bookings of its 35,000 customers, through more than 400 booking channels globally. Refreshed daily, the Index tells us how hotel bookings are performing year-over-year and is today the leading indicator of hotel reservation and guest arrival trends globally. The data is available at a global, country and city level, to provide insight into both macro and local trends, which are critical for hoteliers, hotel investors and travel professionals during this time of uncertainty.

Last-minute bookings and the growing divide between urban areas and regional towns

Since the introduction of the World Hotel Index in April, SiteMinder has seen hotel bookings drop to below 9% YoY globally—their lowest point in recent history—and then show an encouraging and sustained recovery to surpass 54% YoY in July. At a global level, booking levels have plateaued since, but not in every part of the world. While a lot remains unknown, Mike says what is clear is that the new behaviours and preferences of today’s traveller are likely to linger for a while yet, if not become permanent changes for some.

You can drill down to City Level…we choose London, Brighton and Bournemouth

As early as May, SiteMinder reported on signs that today’s traveller would be seeking an immediate escape from the confines of a building and holidaying, instead, outdoors. Those early signs, detected in the UK, have since come to fruition across the globe as the World Hotel Index shows us how more and more travellers are opting for a nearby coastal or regional town destination rather than a densely-populated major city.

See future arrivals by city or country

We see that in:
● The UK, where London’s hotel bookings are at 31.9% of last year’s volumes, while they are at above pre-pandemic levels in Brighton and Bournemouth, both a two-hour drive from the capital.
● Spain, where YoY booking volumes in the major cities of Madrid and Barcelona are hovering between 25-30%, while they have surpassed 50% in the coastal region of Málaga.
● The U.S., where New York City has not been able to rise above 16% of 2019 volumes, while Tampa in beach-filled Florida has already exceeded 2019 volumes.
● Mexico, where the booking momentum in the capital of Mexico City remains below 46%, versus 83.6% in the coastal resort town of Playa Del Carmen.
Australia, where YoY booking volumes sit at 29.2% and 4.1% in the country’s most populous cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Yet, they sit at 79.8% in Townsville, a coastal town up north.
● Thailand, where the booking momentum in the capital city of Bangkok is at 27.1% YoY while it is at 51.3% in the resort island of Ko Samui.

SiteMinder also reported on the rapid rise of last-minute bookings in June and, indeed, of all bookings made at UK hotels in the last two weeks, nearly 80% are for stays during the remaining days of September and in October.

The four stages of hotel booking recovery

Through the World Hotel Index, Mike reports that the hotel booking cycle will generally go through four key stages until it returns to a new sense of normal:
1. Domestic acceleration
2. Deceleration or plateau
3. Destabilisation
4. International acceleration.

After peaking at 68.2% of 2019 levels, hotel bookings in the UK have decelerated, while countries such as South Africa are still enjoying a domestic acceleration.

Mike suggests that all of the above trends mean:
1. Every traveller today is a transient traveller. Booking lead times have shrunk and, now more than ever, extended stays are harder to secure. Every player within the hospitality and travel industry needs to re-strategise accordingly.
2. While a number of hotels have done well to re-imagine their spaces for corporate guests, the reality is corporate travel will remain under pressure for as long as domestic tourism is the only option, or the safest option. Travel operators need to be thinking about how leisure travel can fill the gap.
3. Sensible travel bubbles are critical for island destinations. The value of travel bubbles is clear in Costa Rica, where the booking momentum is up over 100% MoM after international travel resumed on 1 August. The country is now open to travellers from Canada, select EU nations and the UK. By contrast, Vanuatu and Fiji in the Pacific continue to struggle and could face a humanitarian crisis if international travel is not opened up soon from neighbouring countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

THPT Comment: SiteMinder in essence is an all-in-one channel manager, hotel website specialist, hotel payments solution provider, and aggregator of huge amounts of booking data. Through the World Hotel Index, one can get a great insight on “who’s doing what”….sign up today, for free

First Seen: The Hotel Property Team (THPT) is a small group of highly experienced business professionals. Between us, we provide a range of skills and experience which is directly relevant to those involved in the hotel property market.

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