International travel has continued to return steadily over the last quarter, particularly within Europe, and booking lead times are now on a par with pre-Covid trends, according to HotelHub.
The latest HotelHub Index for Q3 2022 showed that by the end of September international hotel bookings from European markets were only 1% lower than pre-pandemic levels, having risen to 43% of all bookings (from 40% at the end of the previous quarter). This compares with 44% of all European bookings in September 2019.
In the US, however, the pace of international travel’s recovery is still notably slower. International hotel bookings climbed 1% by the end of September 2022 to reach 16% compared with 15% at the end of Q2 2022. This figure needs to reach 29% of all US hotel bookings made via HotelHub to achieve the same level as September 2019.
Nevertheless, overall global hotel transactions, both domestic and international, made via the HotelHub agency platform and self-booking tool in Q3 2022 continued to surpass pre-pandemic levels. In September 2022 volumes were still 20% greater than the same month in 2019, and consistent with levels at the end of Q2 2022.
Advance booking lead times increased on average by two days over the last quarter, indicating that corporates are planning trips further ahead now that Covid-related travel uncertainty has abated.
In Europe, the average lead time is currently 17 days which is equivalent to the advance booking period in Q3 2019. In comparison, this time last year in September 2021, lead times had contracted to nine days in Europe.
In the US bookings are currently being made on average 14 days in advance, compared with 16 days in September 2019, and 10 days in September last year.
Online hotel bookings continued to be much higher during Q3 2022 compared with the same quarter pre-Covid. In the US, 77% of bookings in September 2022 were made via OBTs connected to HotelHub, compared with just 15% in September 2019. In Europe, this figure was 62% versus 29%.
The latest HotelHub Index also showed that whilst average daily rates in key cities increased or exceeded 2019 rates in Q2 2022, prices began to level out or decrease slightly in Q3 2022. For example, the average daily rate in London in September 2022 was US$276, down from US$313 in June 2022; in Paris, the average daily rate in September 2022 was US$211, down from US$231 in June 2022; rates in Rome were also down from US$192 in June to US$181 in September.
However, the average daily rate in New York rose to US$413 in September, up from US$359 in June. And Singapore also saw an increase in average daily rates from US$238 in June to US$251 in September.
Eric Meierhans, Chief Commercial Officer, commented: “It’s very encouraging to see that international travel is continuing to increase, particularly in Europe where international hotel bookings are only 1% below pre-pandemic levels. However, the recovery of the share of international bookings made in the US is still a long way off reaching the share of international travel that was being made via HotelHub two years ago.
“The fact that average lead times are more or less back to what they were pre-pandemic is also a good sign showing that corporate travellers can plan ahead with greater confidence, and do not need to make last minute decisions or changes to travel plans,” continued Meierhans.
“But it’s interesting to see that bookings made via OBTs connected to HotelHub are still considerably higher than we had expected, which could still be as a result of TMC staff shortages and servicing challenges, meaning corporates are more reliant on their OBT. The spike in average hotel rates that we saw last quarter has also settled down in most key cities, particularly Europe, now that supply and demand are levelling out.”