COVID-19: Insights on Global Travel Impact & Hotel Industry Webinar #16

April 15, 2020

With our access to real-time traveler audiences and unmatched visibility into global travel demand, we are in a unique position to share current travel trends at the forefront of marketers’ minds. In this series we take a look at the data in order to aid travel marketers in their assessment of this worldwide event. Marketers can use these trends to inform their strategies during this period and be prepared for the recovery once the situation stabilizes. 

Depending on the region, country, or state in which you reside, there have been both highs and lows this week in regards to the status of COVID-19. While the US surpassed Italy with the most recorded coronavirus deaths in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 70 vaccines are in development, Apple and Google announced their first-ever joint effort to help track the spread of the virus, and Israel shared their four-step plan to reopen businesses and schools.

In travel, too, we saw some trends that make us optimistic: as predicted, APAC is showing intent to travel first, with lifts in interest beginning in June. In Europe, consumers are also dreaming of their next trip as some countries move to relax lockdown restrictions, with Austria and the Nordics leading the way. Additionally, PhocusWire reported that 45% of US travelers still have trips booked for June through December 2020, and 61% feel comfortable traveling internationally over the next six months if restrictions are lifted.

This week, we take a dive into the Hotel industry and the travel trends we’re seeing. Laurie Hobbs of Ocean House Collection joins us on our weekly webinar and shares how hoteliers are prepping for recovery.

Sojern Global Hotel Search Trends 4-15


The lodging sector continues to be greatly impacted by the global pandemic. Although a smaller volume of global travelers are searching for lodging today, the search lead times between the week of March 29th and the week of April 5th remain the same – travelers are pushing out their trip dates at least 6 to 8 months out.

Sojern Rentals vs Hotels 4-15

When we compare the search volume of short-term rentals and hotels indexed from the week of January 12th, we can see that short-term rentals are doing better than hotels. This is similar in every region, though in APAC, hotels were hit hard first, while short-term rentals weren’t as affected until three weeks ago. We speculate that short-term rentals fared better than hotels because people were searching for an alternative location to shelter in place or self-isolate.

Sojern Economy vs Luxury 4-15

So how about hotels? In the US, Canada, and EMEA, a significant decline in searches took shape as business travel stopped. In EMEA, you can see this aligns to the week of February 23rd, when a cluster of COVID-19 cases escalated, while the US and Canada started to feel the effects two weeks later.

When we look at the difference between economy and luxury hotels, economy class hotels in the US and Canada are marginally less affected than their luxury counterparts, with a few explanations for this trend. Despite the massive drop in travel demand, STR shows that economy extended stays held a nearly 72% occupancy rate compared to the 34% occupancy rate in luxury hotels. This may be explained by agreements between economy hotels and local governments to provide relief for overcrowded hospitals, and giving assistance to frontline health and essential workers to quarantine themselves from their families and roommates. In light of this, Airbnb and other short-term rental companies are shifting to long-term stays.

How Hotels are Prepping for Recovery

Interested in more hotel insights, and recommendations on what you can do now for your property? In our third webinar, we share more in-depth trends and examples of how hoteliers are engaging with their customers. Listen in as Cady Wolf, Laurie Hobbs, and Aline Hilsabeck share their perspective and best practices.

You can also download the slides here.

We’ll continue to share more insights as we monitor the situation and provide recommendations in this series. For the rest of the COVID-19 insights series click here.

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