As popular travel destinations in Europe emerge from months of uncertainty and cancellations, trends in the travel industry are beginning to emerge.
NB: This is an article from OTA Insight
In Southern Europe, non-refundable rates are coming back into play. Prior to the pandemic, non-refundable rates were a hotel’s bread and butter – a cheaper price point, and with most travellers unlikely to cancel, there was very little risk attached.
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In Barcelona 83% of hotels were offering non-refundable rates prior to the pandemic, down to 32% a year later in March 2021. And, since the backend of 2021, the percentage of hotels offering non-refundable rates in Barcelona is climbing – 54% of hotels in May 2022.
The same can be seen in other popular destinations across Southern Europe, including Rome (89% pre-Covid, and now back up to 57%, Venice (95% pre-Covid, and now back up to 66%), Lisbon (85% pre-Covid, and now back up to 61%) and Athens (92% pre-Covid, and now back up to 71%).
While the strategy from hoteliers has clearly been to encourage confidence during times of uncertainty, they have evolved. Despite new variants, the outbreak of war in Ukraine, and lingering volatility in the market, more and more hotels in Southern Europe are offering non-refundable rates. And, while more hotels offered semi-flex policies than before the pandemic, the percentage of hotels offering this in 2022 has also declined.
However, following sudden downturns, such as the arrival of Omicron and the outbreak of war in Ukraine, short-term increases in the percentage of hotels with semi-flex policies can identified. As soon as market uncertainty rears its head, hotels are keeping this tactic in play.
Non-refundable and semi-flex rate evolution, Rome
Hotel discounting strategies evolve
Mobile discounts are also prominent in the Southern European market – popular destinations in Greece, and Portugal have been using them as part of their blend of rate strategies through the pandemic.
In Athens, 30% of hotels are offering between 5 and 10%, and 8% of hotels are offering a discount of more than 10%. In Lisbon, 31% of hotels are offering a discount of between 5 and 10%. In Santorini, 46% of hotels were offering a mobile discount of between 5 and 10% in January, but this has reduced to just 26% of hotels offering this discount in May – a clear indication that demand and conversions have picked up as the year has progressed.
Length of stay (LOS) discounts have fallen away too in many of these popular destinations, as summer approaches and hotels look to ensure they are converting at the best possible price.
LOS3 Discounts in January 2022
With demand as much as 4.3 times higher (Rome) than the same period last year, hotels have been able to ensure they are maximising their profits in line with this. In Rome, average room prices ten days before travel are 42.4% higher than they were in May of 2019, pre-pandemic, and 51% higher than they were in May 2021.
In Barcelona, where hotel searches indicate demand 4.15 times higher than the same period last year, prices are 114% higher than they were in May 2021, and 24% higher than in May 2019. By contrast, in Santorini, where forward looking hotel search data indicates demand has comparatively slight gains to what it was in May 2021, we can see that prices are still 26% below 2019 levels.