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North American Cancellations at All Time High, Europe Fails to Respond to Vaccination News

December 10, 2020 | Claire Middleton, Contributing Editor

The latest edition of the Pulse Report, which tracks data from November 16 - November 29, shows there’s been a huge amount of cancelations in North America over the last two weeks as new restrictions are introduced in Nevada (which accounts for a major portion of bookings for the NA market) and Los Angeles goes into lockdown again. 

EMEA markets continue to suffer under the effects of various lockdowns and despite the first vaccinations being rolled out on December 8, the data hasn’t shown much to get excited about. However, interest in travel into the Latin American region over the next 12 months has shown a steady increase, whilst over in APAC, new bookings have stagnated somewhat. 

Pick up

Over the first two weeks of November, which included the Thanksgiving holidays, in North America we did see a fairly healthy uptick in bookings. Although this seems positive initially,  it is somewhat dampened by the huge amount of cancelations recorded during the same period. For December stays across the whole of the NA region, we see new bookings increase by 44%, which is fantastic. However, in that same data set we also see an 116% increase in cancelations. As a result, the net increase is only 5%. This is perhaps due to the fact that Nevada has recently imposed new, tighter restrictions and Los Angeles has gone into lockdown again following a serious spike in COVID-19 cases. 

In Latin America, the picture is a little brighter. Across the LATAM market net new bookings over the next twelve months (compared to the previous Pulse Report) are up, showing a steady increase in Pulse over Pulse growth for the region. December, January, and February all saw a good increase in net new bookings of 53%, 40%, and 75% respectively, indicating another two week period of slight growth in confidence surrounding holiday and winter travel, much of which is coming from North American travelers. 

In the APAC region, there’s not been much movement over the last two weeks and we are seeing net bookings stagnate across the market as a whole. This is the result of a combination of COVID spikes since the last Pulse and in some countries, continued lockdowns and both state and border closures.

Taking a look at EMEA, as the second COVID-19 wave unfolded across the region new reservations came to a halt. Despite the level of COVID cases dropping, hotel performance has continued to worsen over the last two weeks. There has been a negative pick up variance of -125% for December, -48% for January and -85% for February. Once again, uncertainty is having a seriously detrimental impact on travel plans across Europe. However, the welcome news of vaccinations and the beginning of the roll out on Dec 8 has brought some much needed optimism to the industry as it looks to the future. Although this has not yet begun to translate into bookings, we are beginning to understand the scope and timeline of vaccination plans which is providing visibility to how Q2 and Q3 2021 could start seeing European travel resuming to some extent. 

Web Traffic

In terms of web shopping, for North America we see a fairly notable uptick in web traffic with the next four months showing a 100% increase compared to the previous Pulse Report. However, conversion rates have reached an all time low with nearly 90% of lookers not booking. This is fairly consistent across all markets. 

For Latin America, we see yet another period of lacklustre web traffic across the region. Focusing on the short-term window and considering holiday travel over the winter break, December’s web traffic change of only +17% since the previous Pulse Report is fairly disappointing. However, it is interesting to note that thanks to the conversation surrounding vaccines being rolled out in 2021, LATAM saw a more meaningful increase in web traffic for the longer term window of May 2021 and beyond. This is a positive observation. 

In APAC, compared to the previous Pulse Report where we observed an increase in web activity for December and January, this week, December activity remains much at the same level. However there is a 44% increase for the month of January. This is a general reflection of the past two weeks where booking and interest has slowed for December. 

Over in EMEA, there is still not much activity as countries begin to emerge from or are still in lockdown. However, the number of web searches is continuing to grow steadily which does show an appetite and interest for travel, with people simply waiting for better news and clarity surrounding the future. When comparing web traffic against the previous edition of the Pulse Report the variance is up by 44% for December, 49% for January and 60% for February.

Hannah Weller Barrise, Director of Hospitality Solutions for the Americas, commented: “All the conversations around restrictions across the Americas have clearly continued to have an impact on bookings over recent weeks, but as vaccination roll outs begin and confidence starts to rise, the second half of 2021 should be more promising for the industry. But, as there is still so much unknown, it’s hard to say for sure.”

Juan Ruano, Duetto’s Director of Hospitality Solutions for the EMEA region, commented: “Despite the positive news surrounding vaccinations in Europe recently, it still seems that European travelers have given up somewhat on travel. Although web searches are up a little, there’s not the level of appetite for travel that other markets such as LATAM are seeing at the moment. But it’s important to try and remain positive.”

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