A New Chapter in User Booking Habits: a Post COVID-19 Market Analysis from Stay22
It’s no secret that in 2020 the travel industry took an impressive hit due to the global lockdown caused by COVID-19. With the world stuck at home and being unable to travel, there has been a rising concern as to how, and for how long, this might impact the industry.
Stay22 is an interactive map-widget, which helps event-goers choose their accommodation between a range of booking platforms such as Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Airbnb, etc. Due to the nature of the solution, it has been able to gather data from its over 18M monthly map visitors worldwide, which shows a shift in the booking behavior of its users following COVID-19.
In 2020 the first two months of the year started with very positive results for the travel tech startup, however, the true COVID-19 impact came on the first week of March. A mass wave of booking cancellations plummeted its numbers to what they were at the very start of the company 3 years ago.
Stay22’s booking numbers for the month of March 2020
However, despite the initial fear of having no more bookings until the end of the lockdown, the user data contradicts this assumption. Bookings haven’t stopped, their nature has simply changed.
Here is a comparison of bookings made in March 2020 vs the month prior, to show the reality before and after the impact of COVID19:
Cancelled bookings: to the surprise of no one, the number of cancelled bookings represents 138% of the total bookings made after March, compared to an 18% previously. This means that more bookings were cancelled rather than made during the span of the month. However, towards the end of March and beginning of April there was a new trend where the number of bookings made were higher than those cancelled. It’s possible that the mass cancellation was a one time event caused by the fear of COVID-19.
Hotels vs Airbnbs: Before the impact of COVID-19 the ratio of bookings for hotels to Airbnb was around 45% vs 55% respectively. This changed in the following weeks, showing a preference towards hotels rather than short-term rentals with a shift of 62% for hotels vs 38%. The conclusion that Stay22 came to after seeing this change is that sanitation is a huge concern for users, and that hotels as institutions reflect more trust.
Check-in dates: Bookings haven’t stopped, but whilst most of them (60%) used to have check-ins before 90 days, now it’s the opposite. 58% of users since March have booked their stay in at least 90 days and more. There seems to be a general hopefulness that by then people will be allowed to travel and enjoy some events that take place in the fall.
Location: local travel has dominated the users choice of bookings with 82% of hotel reservations made by people within the same country.
Several hotels and booking platforms have altered their cancellation policies, offering free cancellations in order to encourage travelers to carry on booking their trips. There has definitely been a shift in user behavior following the initial impact of COVID-19. Perhaps these insights can help members of the travel industry make decisions that will help them during these difficult times. Whilst these numbers don’t predict the future, or reflect everyone’s reality, they do show an eagerness to travel as soon as possible from the user. Stay22 strongly believes that the travel industry will bounce back, people will still want to travel and be with each other. That need isn’t going anywhere, it might change, but it won’t disappear.