How is coronavirus impacting hotel booking lead times?
Despite the global increase in nationwide lockdowns and inbound travel restrictions, some demand for hotel rooms still remains. And while there is no sugar-coating the fact that hotels in almost every country have suffered a steep drop in occupancy due to COVID-19, it is crucial that hotels keep focusing on the pockets of opportunity that present themselves.
Earlier this week we reported that, in a break with convention, domestic travel and mobile bookings were on the rise in some of the markets hit earliest by the novel coronavirus. We have also seen lead times change as people begin to adapt to these uncertain times. By analyzing our hotel data from the previous two months, we've identified the common trends of when guests are still booking hotel rooms - and also how lead times are changing in countries that are on the road to recovery.
As people are becoming more confident in their future ability to travel, bookings with long lead times are picking up in Asia. At the start of March, there were more than twice as many bookings with a lead time of 1-2 days than over 30 days in Hong Kong. However, in the past couple of weeks, the number of guests booking rooms far into the future has increased faster than those more focused on short-term stays.
We can see a similar trend in South Korea, which is seeing a rapid rise in bookings despite being one of the countries initially hit hardest by COVID-19. Long-lead-time stays for South Korean hotels are increasing at a similar rate to those in Hong Kong - considering both of these countries were only recently taking severe steps to curtail the spread of the virus, these trends suggest that it will not take long for travelers to regain their confidence and begin to start booking for future travels.
In other regions that are only just starting to be significantly affected by COVID-19, we're seeing similar booking trends to the ones we saw at the very start of the crisis. For example, last-minute bookings are still holding strong in Mexico, but with border closures and travel bans on the rise we may start to see this decline in the coming weeks. This echoes what we saw in the early stages of Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore, meaning while Mexican hotels may need a short-term shift in strategy, it may not be too long for bookings among some segments to start their recovery.
Looking to the future of your hotel
While there are many social and cultural considerations that may be unique to each hotel, country or region, it's encouraging that we're seeing the same trends over time - and it means you can follow the same blueprint left by those from the likes of Hong Kong and South Korea who've had to lead the way. Focusing on last-minute bookings is crucial when dealing with the worst repercussions of coronavirus, but it's also important to ensure you're still converting guests who are looking further into the future - especially when your region is showing signs of recovery.
It's also key to monitor how the situation is unfolding in your own local area, as there may be unexpected future opportunities presented to your hotel. For example, we've been seeing hotels in a number of major European cities secure bookings for the events that have been postponed to 2021. Many guests are already looking to the future and sorting out their arrangements for when their normal working lives resume, and your hotel must ensure they're at the forefront in competing for these longer-term bookings.
We're going to continue sharing our insights into how booking behavior is changing around the world in response to COVID-19, and what moves your hotel can make to start taking back control over your future. If you'd like to learn more about our analysis of hotel trends, or if you need any assistance or advice in how to respond to the crisis, please don't hesitate to contact our team.
Triptease is a SaaS startup building industry-leading software for the hotel industry. The company was co-founded in 2015 by Charlie Osmond, Alasdair Snow and Alexandra Zubko and has offices in London, New York, Barcelona and Singapore. Triptease's most recent funding was led by British Growth Fund alongside Notion Capital and Episode 1.
The Triptease Platform is built to help hotels take back control of their distribution and increase their direct revenue. The platform identifies a hotel's most valuable guests then works across the entire customer journey - from acquisition to conversion - to make sure they book directly at the hotel.