UK hotels in third stage of booking cycle

UK: A report by SiteMinder reveals that five stages lay ahead of the world’s accommodation providers until booking cycles reset to a different normal, and currently the UK’s hotel industry has entered the third stage flux.

Following a six-month study of the booking behaviours and preferences of travellers, SiteMinder has concluded that the five stages of the hotel booking reset are domestic acceleration, plateauing, flux, embracing, and international acceleration.

The UK hotel industry has entered the third stage of flux, with both the summer’s end and recent spike in coronavirus cases contributing to a reduction in bookings. August showed a peak in booking volume at 76.88 per cent of 2019 levels, with UK properties now just above the global average at 51.5 per cent year-on-year.

Mike Ford, managing director at SiteMinder, commented: “The question everyone in travel has asked this year is whether the industry will ever completely go back to the way it was, and we know now that in some ways it will, but in many other ways it will differ, perhaps permanently. Our study documents the journey we have all taken so far and the journey we are all taking now, whether we realise it or not.”

Data accumulated supports trends that have emerged this year, including the dominance of last-minute bookings and the growing divide between urban areas and coastal or regional towns. This is seen in the UK, where YoY booking volumes sit at 33.17 per cent in London, yet are at 61.59 per cent in Bournemouth and 70.48 per cent in Bristol.  

Other macro trends include the shortening of trip durations, and the demand for greater flexibility with ‘free cancellation/booking modification’ ranking as the most important factor for nearly a third of travellers when choosing accommodation.

Ford added: “We are living in the democratised economy, with neither travel and accommodation providers nor travellers in control. COVID-19 has been the ultimate equaliser. For now, travel is no longer a booming industry of endless trips that we are able to take for granted. Travel has become a privilege again, which means that the future for every hotel is one of more discerning guests and shorter lead times. Predictable seasonality is over.”

SiteMinder’s study draws from the real-time booking data of 35,000 hotels in the World Hotel Index, as well as the survey responses of more than 5,000 travellers in the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and USA, and hotelier interviews.

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