Globally, the hotel industry should be enjoying the height of the summer tourist season. Instead, COVID-19 is impacting tourism numbers like we’ve never seen before – government lockdowns, border closures, and reduced airline schedules have all played a role in affecting people’s decision to travel.
Although travel is not yet returning on a global level, hotel occupancy is on the rise post-lockdown in many domestic and drive markets.
However, conventional summer hot spots (beaches, theme parks, world-famous cities, etc.) are being avoided in favor of more rural locations, as outdoor recreation has grown in popularity to allow for social distancing.
As more countries begin to reopen, what does travel look like? What are the new guest expectations that hoteliers should be aware of to incorporate into their business strategies? What are the latest data and booking trends telling us about industry recovery?
Here are five major areas of consideration for summer travel.
#1. Expect occupancy to change – often
In the age of COVID-19, historical trends no longer apply as hotel occupancy and revenue can change week-to-week.
A decline in group, corporate, and international travel paired with the rise of local last-minute getaways makes it imperative for hoteliers to have access to comprehensive, forward-looking data to truly understand local market performance and plan for recovery.
For example, U.S. data from Amadeus’ Demand360 solution shows the difference in consumer confidence to travel over the Memorial Day (May 25) holiday compared to Independence Day (July 4) holiday.
“May was very different from July, and as we get away from summer and into the fall, bookings are going to change even more,” says Katie Moro, vice president of data partnerships for hospitality at Amadeus.
“As consumer confidence fluctuates with states moving in and out of phased recovery, relying on data from last week or last year to drive a future revenue strategy will not be beneficial. Because of COVID-19, there is no time in history we can compare to what’s happening in the industry now.”
Just around the corner lies one of the most nerve wracking days of the entire year for U.S. hoteliers – the Tuesday after Labor Day (September 8).
“Historically, this is the window where leisure travel drops off as people return to school and work from summer holidays,” explains Moro.
“Hotels again rely on group and corporate travel, but given government regulations on social gatherings and events, these types of bookings have not yet returned. So where will the business be? Who is travelling? It can feel overwhelming, but forward-looking data can provide guidance on how to plan the next steps.”
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