In our recent webinar, we spent some time looking into foot traffic trends at airports in America and Europe. Location data is a very reliable proxy for airline passengers, since there are few reasons to be at an airport other than to board a plane. Precise mapping can filter out people who have come to collect or drop off passengers from those who have passed security in order to catch a flight.
In late August and early September 2020, STR conducted quantitative research using STR’s Traveler Panel. We set out to examine attitudes to travel in this ‘new COVID world’ and to evaluate early experiences among travelers at a time when many economies were reopening and the industry was seeking to capitalize on pent up demand.
The global pandemic has wreaked destruction on the travel industry, with total international arrivals in the third quarter of the year down by 94% compared to the same period in 2019. As of 19th September, flight bookings globally for Q4 of 2020 were 83% behind where they were at the equivalent moment last year.
In 2019 there were 4.54 billion scheduled passengers worldwide. Analysts expected 2020 to set a new record of over 4.72 billion passengers, but instead, the coronavirus pandemic spread its tentacles across the globe, practically bringing international travel to a standstill.
The twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to seismic changes in tourism, which has included the cessation of international travel for some countries. As a whole, we have witnessed long-lasting shifts in consumer behavior and attitudes, producing an increase in active travel, soaring levels of e-commerce and, yes, even ballooning rates of pet ownership.
Mainland China hotel performance is steaming, while occupancy in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Mainland China) presents low occupancy levels overall. U.S. occupancy has remained mostly flat in recent weeks even with a lift from post-natural disaster demand. Recovery in Europe, Australia and New Zealand is also flattening.
Covid-19 and its influence on government decisions regarding its national borders, airports, and flights have dented the once strong international tourism sector. International arrival numbers are down by -94% worldwide with Asia seeing the dip at -97.4% – the hardest-hit region is clearly heavily reliant on air travel as the main source of tourism. However, the recent resurgence of the domestic market in Asia suddenly paints the future for hoteliers, tour operators, duty-free stores, and airlines with some promising colours.
When examining the top five most booked destinations in the Caribbean over summer, we noticed that the same countries also are faring best in terms of forward-bookings and flight searches too. The lucky five are the US Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.
Throughout 2020 scheduled airlines have been looking for glimmers of hope in a recovery, but it looks like the last hope of the year Thanksgiving will be memorable this year for all the wrong reasons. The summer season saw a small spike in demand and then a rapid settling back to the new normal demand levels; labour day showed a similar pattern and the end of year holiday currently looks like being worse than both of those events.
How does Europe compare to other regions in the recovery cycle? China hit a 69.4% occupancy level on 18 August, the highest level during the time of the pandemic. Since that date, however, China has started to fall back a bit. During the first weekend of September (4-6 September), the market posted 57.6%, 57.5% and 57.9% occupancy levels, respectively.
Overall, Envestnet | Yodlee COVID-19 Income and Spending trends data shows that consumer spending in the summer resort category has recovered since bottoming out in April 2020. For this analysis, we looked at spending in resort towns during summer to see if the pandemic affected areas that would usually be bustling during vacation months. In our analysis, we took a closer look at U.S. towns like Truckee, California; Aspen, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and others.
London’s accommodation sector has recovered at around half the pace of the rest of the UK, as mobile data suggests a lack of international tourists and subdued domestic demand for city breaks is causing a continued challenge for the capital’s hoteliers.
The first full week of September capacity follows the recent trend and we are now into the fifth consecutive week of capacity declines from what looks like the peak capacity week of the 3rd August. Project the current trend forward to the year end and global capacity will fall below 40 million in the last week of December; that will not be a happy Christmas for the airline industry. The last full week of December 2019 saw some 106.8 million scheduled seats, so we appear to be heading for less than half of global capacity by year end.
While Germany boasts the most open hotels in Europe, U.K. hotels are opening the fastest having started July with 70% of hotels closed and ending the month at just 20% hotels closed. European hotel occupancy is significantly healthier moving into August, with coastal markets in many countries experiencing the strongest recovery.
Airbnb, which now offers over six million places to stay in the world, is showing a strong rebound in the United States. According to Airbnb accommodation booking data from Airbtics, prior to the coronavirus pandemic the average US state was experiencing a strong weekly booking of 116% YoY.
July and August are two of Europe’s most important months for hotels with travellers spread across the continent on summer holidays. However, it is no secret that summer looks much different this time around for Europe due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Occupancy (for reporting hotels) for the week ending with 18 July shows that most European countries are somewhere between 20-40% in occupancy.
From the second week of February all four of the chains we analyzed saw a steep and prolonged fall in stock price through to the first week of April, when they began to rebound. Extended Stay America in particular has experienced a healthy share price recovery, with its stock back to only 10% below where it was in February, which is worse than S&P’s 0.9% gain but better than its competitors; Marriott’s share price is still 40% lower than it was pre-COVID and Hilton’s hovering around -30%.
While ADR has declined since the end of 2019, the decline is modest compared to Ireland’s significant demand loss over the same period. Peaks in rate over the past few weeks indicate healthy weekend leisure travel.
“Unprecedented” is a word we’ve heard a lot over the past 5 months. It’s a term which very much applies to the airline industry. Never before have airlines had to adjust so rapidly and at such scale to a changing external environment.