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Hotel Metrics Plateau Despite Positive Vaccination News

November 25, 2020 | Claire Middleton, Contributing Editor

The latest edition of the Pulse Report, which tracks data from November 2 - November 15 shows a continued slow pace of web traffic and pick up across most markets, despite positive news regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. 

The Americas

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it’s been interesting to see how bookers have behaved in the lead up to the holiday period. Looking forward for the entire North American region, compared to the prior Pulse Report, we see a fairly consistent plateauing of net new bookings. However, last minute bookings for the remainder of November, which includes the Thanksgiving period, has resulted in a 31% increase in net new bookings as compared to the last report.

Looking ahead to April, May and June of 2021, we can see a real slowdown in new booking activity for North America, despite the positive news surrounding a COVID vaccine breakthrough being announced worldwide recently. 

There was some positive activity for the North American region in terms of web shopping, with web traffic gains showing an average increase of +14%. However, several states did show declines in web shopping during this period, including consumer-favored markets such as Nevada/Vegas (-5%), Tennessee (-35%), and Colorado (-21%). 

In Latin America the figures are slightly more promising. Net new bookings over the next six months compared to the last Pulse Report are up on average by 39%, showing an increase in confidence around holiday period travel, particularly from the US market with beach destinations across Mexico and the region at large presenting an attractive option for North Americans. 

Despite this, LATAM saw the least amount of web traffic momentum as compared to all other regions, with an average growth of only 4% across the next 12 month window. And interestingly, despite the news that COVID vaccines should be available in 2021, LATAM saw a slight increase in web traffic for the shorter term, rather than the expected longer term increase that we would expect such news to cause.   

Hannah Weller Barrise, Director of Hospitality Solutions for the Americas, commented: “Perhaps what’s most interesting about this week is not what we’re seeing around Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, but more so around the news of vaccine progress. More and more headlines are pointing to an effective vaccine becoming available in the near future, so we are looking ahead in our data to try and understand the impact it’s having on longer lead time bookings. 

“So far, based on this latest data, we don’t actually see an increase across North America yet. In fact, for April, May and June 2021 we actually see a slight slowdown in new bookings. But, we’ll be watching closely  because we expect this to change as consumer confidence grows for those late spring and early summer months.”

EMEA

Lockdowns in Germany, France and the UK began at the beginning of November, following a rapid increase in COVID cases in the region. This has had a considerable effect on pick up, as people hold off on booking stays while they wait for new government announcements and a drop in COVID cases. 

There was some positive pick up variance for November of +164% compared to the previous Pulse Report, following several weeks where hotels had experienced a really high number of cancelations. However, pick up has slowed down further for December and January (-61% and -25% respectively) as the region waits to find out what restrictions, if any, will be in place for the Christmas period.

In terms of web shopping, the most recent data is showing that despite everything, there is still an appetite for travel in the region as a whole. Compared to the last Pulse Report the variance in web traffic remains positive, however the week-over-week increases are generally small but consistent with the exception of November where we saw a drop of 6%. December saw an increase of 51% and January 44%.

Juan Ruano, Duetto’s Director of Hospitality Solutions for the EMEA region said: “We are currently in a 'transition period’ as countries try to control the COVID wave across Europe. The increase in pick up in November is positive but we should be careful not to misinterpret this. The healthy positive variance is due only to the fact that in the previous edition of the Pulse Report activity stopped as countries went into lockdown and cancelations had started to come through at a very high pace.

“Web traffic continues to increase but at a much more moderate rate than in previous weeks. I believe this is a sign of people staying put and waiting to see whether plans can be made for the holiday season. There is a lot of uncertainty out there that is finally catching up with consumers now that there is plenty of availability and if travel is allowed they will be able to get rooms and some really good deals.”

APAC

The data for APAC is showing a fairly positive story compared to the rest of the world, with pick up showing decent increases for the rest of the year and into 2021. This has been mainly driven by Greater China where for all three months we continue to see increases, with an extremely short lead trend for November continuing. Since the last Pulse there was an increase of 79% for November; 13% for December and 138% for January.

Many of the APAC areas, such as South East Asia, still have their international borders closed which is having a continued impact on net new bookings as they have to rely on domestic travel to boost their numbers. The last Pulse Report showed that the number of new bookings had slowed down and cancelations increased in most countries in the region, however this Pulse presents a more positive view, with net bookings doubling for each of the next three months.

The last Pulse Report showed an increase in web traffic for the three upcoming months, however the most recent report shows it has slowed considerably for November. December saw an increase of only 10% and January an increase of just 2%, showing that people in these areas are still wary about making plans.

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