Interest in international travel increases… and more July trends

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Hotels across Ireland and Northern Ireland were open for all of July, making for a successful and busy month for most. With so many varying factors still influencing people’s decisions, feelings and behaviours (the vaccination programme, restrictions on indoor dining, a general sense of caution in response to rising Covid figures), hesitancy is still in the air but is slowly dissipating. It’s the time to continue marketing autumn campaigns, as demand and confidence will continue to become prevalent in adults across the country.

International travel restrictions eased on July 19th, and it looks as though younger people with no families are the most likely group to book trips, potentially with some waiting until the new year. A recent survey by Statista showed 51% of respondents interested in travelling to another European country in the next six months.

International travel is coming back

It’s on the way. When, though? We surveyed our LinkedIn followers recently, asking when they thought international travel would return to pre-pandemic levels, and while just 9% of people said 2022, 48% said it would return in 2023, and 42% said it wouldn’t return until after 2023.

It’s great to look forward to international travel nonetheless – it might mean less domestic bookings, but if people are leaving the country, people will be coming in too. Think about what people want after the pandemic, and what the pandemic has made them reflect on. How has it changed their thinking, their habits, their day to day lives? How can you move with them and create a place that aligns with who they are, and gives them what they need?

Some trends and considerations you should think about include wellness tourism (think stress-free retreats/spa weekends/walking trails/healthy menus), slow travel (emphasising sustainable, meaningful trips with a focus on local food/local experiences) and bleisure, or workations. A huge majority of people now have more flexibility in their working lives than ever before, as they’ve been given the freedom to work from home, or engage in a mixture of both working from home, and from the office.

51% of consumers have said ‘time for myself’ is one of their top 3 life priorities

If people can essentially work anywhere, it means they’re more likely to book a break away and perhaps work two out of the four days they stay in your hotel. Can you offer them a good rate and encourage them to stay a night longer, if they’re with you for the weekend? Think hard about how you can attract workers. They will make up a large group of travellers for the remainder of the year, and beyond.

Something else to consider, although seemingly small and insignificant, is letting people know you’re a pet-friendly hotel, if you happen to be! A recent survey by Motel 6, showed that 54% of cat and dog owners surveyed said they planned to travel with their pet in the next year.

What were general bookings like in July?

While the restrictions on international travel being lifted probably had an impact on the number of domestic bookings, there wasn’t a huge uplift in cancellations which is good news (there was still a slight jump compared to June, from 16% to 21%).

As to be expected, July’s two week heatwave impacted the number of bookings coming in when compared with the previous two weeks.

There was also a slow down in bookings caused by less available summer dates to book, and the approaching new school year – which is something we do generally see. Overall, compared to June, bookings in July fell by 11% in ROI and 12% in NI, and although there still isn’t a huge demand for autumn bookings just yet, it could be that people are cautiously waiting a little longer to book their trips.

Compared to July 2019, however, booking volume was 20% higher in ROI and 39% higher in NI.

What was general traffic like?

Consolidated site traffic remained steady with June, with just a 2% growth in July.

Another great month for Google Hotel Ads

Google Hotel Ads is a meta-search platform which displays your hotel rates in direct comparison to OTAs, enabling you to showcase your hotel on Google across multiple devices.

For the third month in a row, Google Hotel Ads have had a spectacular performance in relation to paid campaigns. Currently, they’re delivering anywhere from 10-30% of the overall Google Ads revenue for hotels using the platform.

Their purpose is to help to drive direct bookings for your hotel, instead of increase OTA bookings. Most of our clients are currently using a commission-based model on the platform, which means we, and they, only pay for bookings that are made, as opposed to just clicks. Google Hotel Ads will only display availability for dates the hotel has rooms to sell.

With more and more users relying on metasearch engines (especially Google) to find the best available rate, it’s not surprising that properties bidding in Google Hotel Ads are seeing their conversions going up

We highly recommend that you shift your approach to Google Hotel Ads going forward given the fact that you only pay for bookings made! An open budget allows your ads to show whenever your property is seeing demand, so you’re not losing out on bookings because your budget has run out.

Contact us at hello@netaffinity.com for more information or to chat about how we can help in this area.

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