Hotel booking windows are lengthening, according to research released by Amadeus this week.
In its “Rebuilding Hospitality: Trends in Demand, Data and Technology that are Driving Recovery” report, the company points to April as a pivotal month for the segment when global occupancy rates hit 46%.
The percentage compares to April 2020 when bookings slumped as lockdowns were imposed and the occupancy level was 13%.
Rates vary in different regions, according to the report, with China hitting rates of 60% and North America 50%, but Europe is still trailing at around 18%, attributed to a slower easing of travel bans.
The Amadeus report says that while last-minute bookings were a feature of the pandemic, a trend echoed across the industry, booking windows are beginning to lengthen.
Same-day bookings have decreased from 39% in the first week of 2021 to 23% in the week from April 25.
Meanwhile, bookings made 31 to 60 days before the stay increased from 6% in the first week of 2021 to 11% in the week of April 25.
To put that in some context, at the beginning of April 2020, 62% of all bookings globally were made within seven days with 41% made the same day as check in.
While there’s still room for improvement, other studies also reveal the positive trend.
The Skyscanner Horizons: The Return of Travel report reveals booking windows are now 80 days in advance in EMEA, 70 days in North and South America and 54 days in Asia Pacific.
The reports suggest confidence is building in line with restrictions being lifted.
The Amadeus report also asked hoteliers about their current greatest challenges, with a third saying the lack of business travel, followed by government restrictions and a lack of international flights.
Leisure travel, particularly domestic, is now widely expected to lead the recovery and two thirds of hoteliers don’t expect to see pre-pandemic occupancy levels until the end of 2022.
Data drawn from the Amadeus Demand360 insight tool shows distribution strategies have changed in the pandemic with much more direct including brand.com business.
In April 2020 direct bookings made up 67% of the mix compared with 2019’s levels of 41% coming direct.
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Hotel giants including Accor and Hilton have said in recent earnings that they will look to capitalize on the direct trend although questions remain over how long it will be before the trend swings back to online travel intermediaries.
The Amadeus study shows that shift beginning to happen with the OTA share of bookings at 19% in April 2021, more than double that of 2020 and up slightly on 2019’s percentage of 16%.
Of the hoteliers surveyed as part of the study, 28% say OTAs are their most important distribution channel while 43% say direct channels.
Hoteliers are urged to take advantage of more data sources as the industry recovers with historical data unable to provide a complete picture currently.
The airline industry is also looking to diversify data sources they rely on to include sources such as traveler intent to forecast demand.
A final insight highlighted in the hospitality report is 46% of hoteliers globally are undecided about whether to require guests to provide proof of vaccination or a health passport with and a third saying they will not.
In addition to drawing data from Amadeus Demand360, the company surveyed 668 hotel executives from across the world.