Stay22 Market Analysis: A Global Forecast of Event-Goers Booking Habits

Written by Alexandra Kahr, Head of Communications at Stay22, with the data collected by Stay22 and its solution

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2020 has demonstrated to be a year of change and adversity, with several events disrupting businesses, industries, and markets with a domino effect. This is why now more than ever it’s crucial to pay attention to data and trends to make informed smart decisions. Much like we’ve done throughout the year, at Stay22, we’ve been keeping a careful eye on our data (which we get from our 18M+ monthly map views, to track the recovery of the event travel industry and share it with our community. We meant it when we said ‘We’re all in this together’, so whichever way we can help, we do.

The start of the year seemed promising, then COVID came along and tanked our numbers to what they were at the start of our business. As a result of this and the lockdown, people changed their booking habits. Then, using our data, we debunked and confirmed a series of myths regarding the industry and how people were approaching event travel during COVID in another article. Finally, summer came along and the industry started showing impressive signs of recovery, but mainly in this particular sector of the travel industry. So with all this in mind, how are September and the upcoming months looking like?

What we’re expecting:

  • Hypothesis 1: Events (and as a result travelers making bookings!) are still taking place

  • Hypothesis 2: A large % of said bookings will be for the end of 2020 beginning of 2021

  • Hypothesis 3: As a result, booking windows will be larger than at the beginning of COVID

People are booking, they’re still excited for events and there exists a desire to travel. However, people’s priorities have shifted and that is shown in their booking habits. So, to analyze them, this is what we’ll be looking at:

  • Which type of accommodation people are booking?
  • How large is the booking window?
  • And how long are these stays?

Since we’ve experienced a decrease of approximately 36% of international bookings, we will be dividing the data by geographical location (North America, Europe & APAC).

Before diving into the numbers, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • This article is based on the data that our Stay22 maps receive from our solution which is spread throughout 50+ countries.
  • The data we’ve gathered for this article consists of September 1st, 2019 to August 10th, 2020.
  • Pre and Post COVID is marked by April 1st, 2020
  • Our data sample for post-COVID is significantly smaller than pre-COVID due to the decrease in the number of events and travel. Note that it can serve as a way to showcase changes in the market but it does not necessarily reflect the whole truth for the entire industry.

What type of accommodation are people booking?

COVID has drastically changed what people look for in accommodation when they’re booking. Health, sanitation, and safety are now top of mind, and this has been evident when booking a place to stay.

The vast majority of events happen in urban centers, which has been the battleground between short term rentals and hotels for over a decade and saw rentals gradually eat hotel market share despite both sides seeing gains on absolute terms. Pre-COVID, our data showed Stay22 users preferring rentals over hotels at around 59% vs 41% respectively.

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  • Globally: On a global scale, people still prefer rentals over hotels, with the former being responsible for 60% of bookings. However, hotels are starting to step on their turf. Despite them still not taking first place, they did steal 5% of the market going from 30% to 35%.

  • North America (USA & Canada): Before COVID, 72% of bookings made were for rentals, now we’re looking at a drop to almost 60%. However, what’s impressive in North America is how drastic this change was for Canada, with hotel bookings going from 20% to 47%! Canadians have clearly shown in 2020 that they’re beginning to favor hotels more and more.

  • Western Europe: Western Europe (WE) has maintained the same ratio of hotels to rental bookings at 40% to 60%. Although, funnily enough, it’s not because there wasn’t a shift, in fact, most countries did show a smaller preference for hotels. However, it was France who evened the playing field, as it was the only country in our WE data where bookings for rentals actually increased, going from 76% to 84%.

  • APAC: APAC was an anomaly, with hotels starting above rentals at 53%. However, during COVID rentals switched places with hotels and took over 53% of the bookings made.

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Now that they have their accommodation booked, for when are they booking?

Let’s explore how COVID has affected the size of users’ booking window. In other words, how long will it be from the day they make their reservation to the day they arrive?

  • Globally: People are definitely booking more in advance, with the average booking being for 2.5 months after the booking date (previously just 2 months). However, hotels have increased the average, with a booking window of 4 months… a 143% increase!! Why? Probably a mix of travelers planning ahead of the recovery, and hotels having flexible and accommodating cancellation policies.

  • North America: North America has doubled their booking window in size going from 41 days to 82 days for hotels. Rentals on the other hand have experienced a shorter booking window with reservations made for 11 days earlier than pre-COVID times.

  • Western Europe: The booking window for hotels in WE grew by almost 200%, with reservations being made 5.5 months in advance. This push was led primarily by the UK where the hotel booking window increased from 54 days to 192. Rentals on the other hand followed the same pattern as North America with a shorter booking window of 21 days.

  • APAC: APAC barely saw a shift in rentals booking window, the big shift was in hotels. Surprise, surprise. They increased by 80%, going from 63 days to 114 days.

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Another key thing to look at, isn’t just how far ahead people are planning their trip, but also how long will they be staying? Whilst the length of stay has seen an increase, the change hasn’t been drastic. On average people are booking for one extra day on both hotels and rentals. However, stays at rentals are still significantly higher than hotels, averaging at 4 nights rather than 2 nights.

Hypothesis review:

  • Hypothesis 1: Events (and as a result travelers making bookings!) are still taking place- True, although the volume of bookings is smaller than during pre-COVID times, bookings for event travel are still taking place. We might just not feel them the same because they’re for later this year.

  • Hypothesis 2: A large % of said bookings will be for the end of 2020 beginning of 2021- True, the larger booking window signifies that people are betting on a recovery (at least partially) by the end of the year or beginning of the next.

  • Hypothesis 3: As a result booking windows will be larger than at the beginning of COVID- True for hotels, despite the average booking window increasing by 35%, this is mostly due to the significant increase by hotels. Rentals have seen a small decrease in booking windows of about 20%.

What can this mean for you?:

Do you agree with us? Can this data help you make smarter decisions? We share our insights with our community because we believe that the more you know the better prepared you will be. For example, by learning of a larger booking window means a higher chance of increasing revenue, so you may change how you promote your Stay22 map. Do you have any additional data on this topic? Share it in the comments section!