A new report by SiteMinder, the global hotel industry’s leading guest acquisition platform, reveals that five stages lay ahead of the world’s almost one million accommodation providers until their booking cycle resets into a different normal. From Booming to Privilege: The New Realities for a Hotel Industry in Need of a Reset is SiteMinder’s six-month study of the latest behaviors and preferences of travelers, which concludes that the Five Stages of the Hotel Booking Reset are domestic acceleration, plateauing, flux, embracing, and international acceleration.
According to the five stages, the United States’ hotel industry is in the second stage of plateauing, following a steep rise in domestic bookings through May and the first half of June. They remain stable at 58.45 percent of 2019 levels.
SiteMinder’s study draws from the real-time booking data of 35,000 hotels in SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index; the survey responses of more than 5,000 travelers in the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and the UK; and hotelier interviews. It comes six months after SiteMinder witnessed hotel bookings globally drop to below nine percent of 2019 levels in April – their lowest point in recent history.
“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,” says Mike Ford, Managing Director at SiteMinder. “Our study documents the journey we have all taken so far and the journey we are all taking now, whether we realize it or not.”
SiteMinder’s report outlines the biggest travel trends to have emerged this year, including the dominance of last-minute bookings, and the growing divide between urban areas and less-populated coastal or regional towns which SiteMinder first reported in May. In the last two weeks, 68 percent of all bookings were for stays in October, to illustrate the last-minute trend in the U.S.
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 travelers when choosing their accommodation.
“We are living in the Democratized Economy, with neither travel and accommodation providers nor travelers in control. COVID-19 has been the ultimate equalizer,” says Mr Ford. “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 reveals that, while the current pandemic has negatively affected the financial situation of more than three-in-four travelers either ‘a lot’ or ‘somewhat’, more than 85 percent say they are likely to take their next domestic trip before 2021 year-end.