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The travel bounce back: Australia’s hotel bookings return to pre-pandemic levels

Author: Theodore Koumelis / Date: Fri, 04/16/2021 - 09:10
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SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index monitors the volume of hotel bookings made through the hotel commerce platform, which services around 34,000 hoteliers globally, compared to previous years.

Sydney, Australia – For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, the volume of hotel bookings in Australia has returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest data from SiteMinder, the world’s largest open hotel commerce platform.

SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index monitors the volume of hotel bookings made through the hotel commerce platform, which services around 34,000 hoteliers globally, compared to previous years.

According to the World Hotel Index, data pulled on April 14, 2021 shows a rise to 102.45% of the volume of hotel bookings across Australia at April 14, 2019. Since the pandemic instigated international border closures and state lockdowns, there was a significant drop in bookings between March and May, 2020, followed by an acceleration in domestic bookings, a steady plateauing for several months, and then a significant rise through November, 2020.

Since December, the volume of bookings has fluctuated between approximately 95% and 70% of the volume of bookings of two years prior, and in the last month has steadily grown as Australians embrace the ‘new normal’. Following the announcement of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble, bookings have increased further and SiteMinder anticipates a greater acceleration in hotel bookings enabled by additional international border re-openings and the global vaccine rollout.

In comparison, the global average was recorded at 53.42% on the same day, and the volume of bookings in the UK, US, and New Zealand were 37.45%, 77.19%, and 92.25% respectively in comparison to the same date in 2019. A standout market is the Maldives, which reached 100% of pre-pandemic bookings in November, 2020, and is currently at 100.58% of 2019 levels.

SiteMinder World Hotel Index global

Sankar Narayan, CEO of SiteMinder, said, “Following a year of fluctuations, Australia is in a unique position to not only be supported by strong domestic travel, but to prepare for an influx of New Zealand travellers and see a further boost in international travellers from specific markets where the vaccine rollout is looking promising. The widespread changes across the hotels, travel and tourism industries are also presenting opportunities for Australian businesses to expand, pivot and innovate. A rise in leisure travel against a drop in corporate travel, and the shift to domestically exploring our own backyards through road trips and nearby holidays are a few trends worth continuing to watch, and many hotels have already managed these shifts with resilience and come out stronger in 2021.”

Narayan points, however, to the difference in performance of hotel bookings between metropolitan areas and more regional areas. For example, the volume of bookings in Cairns, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, and Townsville has exceeded pre-pandemic levels several times in the last few months. Meanwhile, hotel bookings in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane are still currently 75%, 73.46% and 83.49% of pre-pandemic volumes respectively. This divide between urban areas and regional towns, first detected by SiteMinder last August, is a reflection of more travellers opting for a nearby coastal or regional town destination rather than a densely-populated major city.

SiteMinder World Hotel Index Australia cities

Narayan continued, “While the hotel industry is demonstrating phenomenal resilience, hotels, especially those in metro areas, are still in need of support. With JobKeeper ended and the recent government stimulus package not including specific financial support for metro-based hotels, it’s time the government stepped up to adequately support these businesses that disproportionately carried the burden of keeping our country safe and our economy going during the pandemic.”

The SiteMinder World Hotel Index highlights an ongoing trend in last-minute hotel bookings, with over 25% of all nation-wide bookings secured for hotel stays within the next two weeks. Of all bookings made in the last two weeks, alone, almost half (45.45%) are for stays during the month of April.

Narayan concluded, “As the travel industry continues to evolve, it’s pleasing to see many of our hotels start to see a return to normalcy, particularly in the regional areas of the country. We remain optimistic about the future of the industry in Australia and are looking forward to seeing more, much-needed visitors to city-based hotels in the near future.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theodore Koumelis

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.