SINGAPORE – Wednesday, 14 September 2022 – With this year's Formula One (F1) Singapore Grand Prix set to see its biggest turnout since its first night race back in 2008, the island city is once again ready to host world-class events after the COVID-19 pandemic. With the majority of COVID restrictions now lifted, visitor arrivals in Singapore rose for the sixth consecutive month in July to 726,601, up from 543,733 in June, according to the tourism board. Sojern, a leading provider of digital marketing solutions for travel, shares travel trends and insights ahead of the return of the first Grand Prix in three years.
How is travel intent to the Little Red Dot looking?
Following the steady easing of COVID restrictions, global flight bookings to Singapore are up 305%* since the start of 2022. Bookings have bounced back from 13%** to 50% of 2019 levels*** (when comparing weekly booking volumes in 2022 vs. 2019), demonstrating strong interest in travel to the popular Southeast Asia destination. In the leadup to the F1, Oceania, primarily Australia, has shown the greatest interest in Singapore travel, up 17% in 2022 versus 2019. Other notable regions with market share increases compared to 2019 volumes include South Asia (+5%), Western Europe (+3%), Middle East (+1%), with Sojern anticipating that as we move closer to the F1 date travel demand from neighbouring regions such as Southeast Asia and East Asia will also increase.
Australia retains its position as Singapore’s top origin country in 2022, while increasing its market share at the same time (+18% from 18% in 2019 vs 36% in 2022). In alignment other notable countries moving up in 2022 are m 4% in 2019 vs 10% in 2022), Philippines (+5% in 2022), and Indonesia (-3% from 7% in 2019 vs to 4% in 2022), with new countries for 2022 including the United Kingdom and South Korea in 6th and 10th places respectively. The United States (8%) and Thailand (6%) remain in the top five whilst China and Japan drop out of the top 10 in 2022, which may in part be attributable to ongoing inbound and outbound travel restrictions in both countries.
What are travellers' search and booking habits?
Less than a month out from the night race, flight booking popularity is moving towards the middle of the week, peaking on Thursday, while hotel booking popularity is moving towards the end of the weekday and into the weekend, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The shift may be attributable to travellers seeking to maximise their time in Singapore ahead of the race to immerse themselves in the city’s melting pot of cultures. Lead time for booking flights and hotels demonstrates very forward planning with the race compared to only 36% of flights and 12% of hotel bookings in 2019. With post pandemic airline tickets at an all time high, longer lead times may be due to travellers seeking to secure favourable flight rates.
At the same time both flight and hotel bookings showcase interest for longer stays during the 2022 F1 period. Flight bookings over five days make up 19% of bookings and 20% of bookings of 8+ days, with travellers perhaps maximising their stay in light of surging international flight costs. In comparison the majority of bookings in 2019 were shorter between 3-4 days long.
Who is travelling to Singapore?
Sojern sees that business travel for the 2022 F1 period has dropped for both flight and hotel bookings making up only 4% of flight bookings compared to 10% in 2019. This finding aligns with a recent report stating that business travel spending might not recover to pre-pandemic levels until sometime in 2026, two years later than previously expected. Both only 4% of flight bookings compared to 10% in 2019. This finding aligns with a recent report stating that business travel spending might not recover to pre-pandemic levels until sometime in 2026, two years later than previously expected. Both weekend (51%) and week long (27%) travel have increased for hotels in comparison to only 31% and 15% in 2019, perhaps a sign of F1 being a strong draw for tourists to Singapore.
Looking at traveller profiles, flight and hotel bookings show an opposite trend in 2022 versus 2019. Based on flight booking data, couples and family travel has become more popular at the expense of solo travel, making up 33% and 18% respectively compared to 28% and 8% in 2019. However solo travellers still make up most of the market share for hotels at 96% compared to 48% in 2019.
Strong prospects for Singapore travel recovery
“Following two years of COVID-19 restrictions it’s clear to see that global travellers are excited to return to Singapore,” commented Lina Ang, Managing Director APAC, Sojern. “Whether visiting to experience the thrills of the night race, enjoy the abundant opportunities for feasting or indulge in a spot of retail therapy, our “Garden City” is ready to warmly welcome visitors.
Over the past three years Sojern’s innovative digital solutions have seen us best placed to support local partners through travel recovery challenges. Throughout this busy F1 period and beyond, we look forward to continuing to support our local partners in their travel rebound.”
As the end of travel restrictions continues to spark a surge in flight demand that exceeds supply, the news that Singapore Airlines plans to increase services to destinations across the world is welcome news to the industry and travellers alike. Operating at a total passenger capacity of 61% in May, compared with pre-COVID levels, the group expects to operate at 81% capacity of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. Sojern anticipates the airline's increase in services to destinations such as India, Los Angeles and Paris, as well as popular Japanese cities Tokyo and Osaka, will bring down higher than average airfares and encourage further travel.
Acting as a key partner for industry players who want to be supported in their ongoing recovery has seen Sojern continue to gain market share in Singapore and the wider APAC region. Present in the market since 2015, Sojern’s portfolio in the city-state includes large hotel groups such as Frasers Hospitality, Accor and Hyatt, as well as the flag carrier airline Singapore Airlines, the title sponsor of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.
*As of 1 August 2022 vs 3 January 2022
**As of 3 January 2022 vs 3 January 2019
***As of 1 August 2022 vs 1 August 2019
Sojern is a leading digital marketing platform built for travel marketers. Powered by artificial intelligence and traveller intent data, Sojern provides multichannel marketing solutions to drive direct demand. Thousands of hotels, attractions, tourism boards and travel marketers rely on Sojern annually to engage and convert travellers around the world.