Hotels: Responding To Changes In Travellers' Behaviour
If there is one thing to take away from the seemingly never-ending pandemic… (Delta, Omicron) it is the fact that travellers have long adapted to the fast-changing nature of travelling and living with the virus. What does this mean for hotels? Let’s unpack some of the emerging travel trends and how it affects the hotel landscape.
A Skyscanner report showed that behavioural trends of one-way searches have increased in March and have continued trending up even after 6 months. The general high interest in one-way searches can be attributed to several reasons. Mainly, back in March, travellers wish to hold the autonomy in deciding where they should ride through the pandemic. However, it can also be due to the spike in spontaneous travel decisions.
Hotels.com has recorded a spike in spontaneous decisions in 2021, where travellers are more impulsive than ever. Travellers are making up for lost time and that pent-up demand is urging their primal sense to indulge and splurge on themselves.
Domestic Travel is also expected to lead the way in travel recovery. As travellers are unmotivated to travel long-haul, domestic travel provides a refreshing perspective on travelling without the uncertainties of the virus. As the nature of domestic travel would suggest shorter travelling and trip duration, perhaps travellers are more prone to book one-way tickets given that not much commitment is required anyway.
Shorter Booking Horizons
A no brainer, if travellers are more spontaneous, the window of time between booking and travelling will definitely be much shorter. However, just spontaneous traveller behaviour alone cannot account for the fact why booking horizons are becoming shorter.
As we reflect on the updates of COVID-19 in the past two years, there seems to be a new and “dominant” variant emerging every other 3 months. With that, countries often propose a knee-jerk reaction - the closure of borders. While it is always better to err on the side of caution, this has greatly affected and shaped the way we travel. Travellers would love to have the flexibility to cancel or change their plans, from hotel rooms to air tickets.
There is also a positive correlation between travel confidence and booking horizons. When travellers imbue strong confidence towards travelling, booking horizons tend to lengthen. But with devastating travel news appearing every other 3 months, travellers seem to be unbothered but have since adapted to it - evident from last-minute decisions and spontaneous travel.
It can be concluded that travellers are used to the uncertainty of travelling, but yet, they do not wish to give up on the idea of travelling in pandemic times. Unfazed, they adapt to the workings of the virus and seize any opportunity they can get when travel borders open up.
Similarly, the hotel industry has to stay adaptable if they wish to attract travellers. In a difficult situation where there is a dramatic decrease in the number of travellers, to begin with, hotels have to show that they are sympathetic with travellers if they want to survive. Hotels have to be flexible with their bookings and cancellations because travellers’ behaviours have changed, and this trend could be here for good.