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10 hospitality travel trends as set out in Sabre’s new Destination Digest report

October 6, 2021 Hotel Trends No Comments
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Trend 1 – Hospitality continues to lead travel industry recovery 

The global travel industry’s recovery continues to reflect the local COVID-19 conditions and related travel restrictions. Vaccine distribution impacts traveler confidence and, in turn, performance across regions and segments within the travel and, specifically hospitality, industries varies. Intra-country leisure travel still dominates with consumers opting for longer trip durations as opposed to shorter getaways and are willing to pay more for factors that reduce their exposure to Covid-19. We are seeing a slow but positive movement with business travel as some companies have started to loosen restrictions on employee travel. Sabre’s key volume metrics showing Sabre Hospitality Solutions Gross CRS transactions compared to airline passengers boarded and gross air bookings reveals hospitality transactions are leading recovery.

Trend 2 – North American market closest to 2019 figures  

The North American market is the region closest to reaching 2019 occupancy levels. Factors such as widespread vaccine distribution and travel restriction relaxation contributes to an increase in traveler confidence within domestic leisure travel. Canada has been tracking slightly behind due to the border closure, but with the reopening of the border on August 9, this is expected to change. There was a slight dip in hotel occupancy and average daily rates in the beginning of August. With the recent rise of the Delta variant, it is unknown how this positive momentum will be impacted.

Trend 3 – Occupancy levels remain low in APAC 

Overall, the APAC region continues to follow strict protocols with the spread of the Delta variant. The region was split with some countries expanding, and some closing, the booking gap between 2019
and now.Occupancy levels remain low and unemployment rates increased for the first time in 12 months in the larger part of the region. Talks of additional restrictions and the trajectory of the variant will continue to dictate the occupancy recovery in the region. China remains close to pre-pandemic levels due to a strong volume of intra-country travel. Australia and New Zealand peaked in travel this summer but have since declined in both flight and hotel bookings as of August

Trend 4 – Latin America is a mixed bag when it comes to recovery 

Latin America remains a mixed bag on the road to recovery as the virus trajectory and government responses continue to make travel to most of the region challenging resulting in a slower economic recovery. Mexico, Chile and Brazil were exceptions to this trend, all showing strong signs of improvement from 2020 occupancy numbers. Mexico benefited from the U.S. travel demand and Chile benefited from the highest regional vaccination rate. As of July, Embratur, the Brazilian Tourist Board resumed its tourism promotions, rolling out focused marketing campaigns through end of year.

Trend 5 – Many countries in EMEA are seeing an upwards occupancy trajectory  

Many hotels reopened and increased occupancy across EMEA as a result of their eased travel restrictions. Recently there had been a push to open most European countries to international travelers, but the need to stay up-to-date with policies is crucial, as many countries continue to balance a variety of entry requirements and ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions. Since the Council for the European Union began lifting non-essential travel restrictions at the end of June 2021, many countries in the region have seen positive changes in occupancy. For the last several months, Russia continued to see improvement in their hotel occupancy rates and are projected to continue to improve with the recently ordered mandatory vaccination policy.

 Trend 6 – Requirement of vaccination proof is on the rise  

More companies, hotels, and restaurants are requiring proof of vaccination. As of August, a growing number of companies including Google, Facebook and Disney announced their vaccine mandates beginning in their U.S. office and rolling out to other countries. Vaccination campaigns continue to launch throughout Europe, leaving many employers in the E.U. and U.K. to investigate actions to take. Some popular hotel destinations are also now mandating their guests show proof of their Covid-19 health status.   

Trend 7 – Delta variant causing recovery setback   

The Delta variant, discovered last December, has now become the most dominant strain of the coronavirus worldwide. Just as some countries were beginning to ease restrictions, infection rates across the world have increased. While it’s found that vaccine protection is still very strong, new strains of Covid-19, including the Delta variant, may impact travel trends. In terms of traveler confidence, we are beginning to see a slight decrease in confidence levels due to the Delta variant. 56% of consumers said they feel comfortable going on vacation, which is a slight decrease from a record high of 65% in July. 52% of adults said they feel comfortable staying in a major hotel chain while 46% felt comfortable staying in boutique hotels.  

Trend 8 – Average trip durations are increasing  

The hospitality industry continues to adapt to drive bookings and reduce travel concerns – and it’s leading to positive results. The average trip duration has increased by two days (compared to 2019) as traveler preference leans towards booking one long getaway over multiple short tips.  While booking windows hit a low point in many locations during 2020, we saw booking windows increase in many countries over the past few months.

Trend 9 – The staycation is here to stay   

A staycation is defined as ‘a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.’ The term staycation has been around long before the pandemic, but the word’s popularity soared in 2020 when travel, especially international travel, came to a halt. Hoteliers across the world, have gotten creative in creating experience-based hotel packages to attract leisure travel from locals. From U.K. to Singapore and Sydney, the staycation is one pandemic trend that is here to stay.   

Trend 10 – Some positive signs for the return of business travel  

During the summer months we saw some positive results, however the impact of Delta and other variants will continue to be monitored.Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which has been tracking company sentiment during the pandemic, received some positive results, indicating an increase in companies reallowing business travel. As is the case with most travel right now, business travel is more likely to occur in areas with higher vaccination rates. In these regions we are seeing a higher dependence on travel agents to ensure that employee travel plans are safe and follow new company travel protocols.

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