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 behaviours and preferences of travellers, 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, Thailand’s hotel industry is in the second stage of plateauing, following a steep rise in domestic bookings through May and June. They remain stable at around 40 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 travellers in Thailand, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, UK and USA; 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.
“Everyone in travel wonders whether the industry will ever 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, possibly permanently,” says Bradley Haines, Regional Vice President of Asia Pacific at SiteMinder.
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. This is seen in Thailand, where YoY booking volumes sit at around 29 percent in Bangkok, yet are at over 37 percent in Ko Samui.
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 their accommodation.
“COVID-19 has been the ultimate equaliser. It has seen us enter the new, Democratised Economy where neither travel and accommodation providers nor travellers are in control,” says Mr Haines. “Travel no longer means endless trips that we are able to take for granted. Travel is a privilege again, which means that the future for hotels is one of more discerning guests and shorter lead times. The days of predictable seasonality are over.”
SiteMinder’s study reveals that, while the current pandemic has negatively affected the financial situation of more than three-in-four travellers either ‘a lot’ or ‘somewhat’, more than 85 percent say they are likely to take their next domestic trip before 2021 year-end.