Booking sentiment in October was positive

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With things still very uncertain, and restrictions changing frequently, we don’t know for sure what’s around the corner. In the US, it’s a mixed bag, with business travel picking up and filling the gap that has become apparent from less vacationers.

In Ireland, the level of uncertainty mixed with updated restrictions has meant a slight loss in confidence and a surge in recommendations to avoid gatherings like Christmas parties where possible. This means we may see a dip in the coming months. Looking back at October though (as is important to do), it was a positive month compared to the same period in 2019.

What were general bookings like?

Restrictions were due to be lifted in the Republic of Ireland on 22nd October. Although they did not lift fully due to a rise in case numbers, hospitality industry restrictions did loosen slightly (dining numbers increased to 10 adults with 5 children at a table, and weddings returned to full numbers allowed). With weddings now back to full capacity this is good news for our industry, however we’ll be keeping an eye on updates from the government! Hotel bars will need to close by midnight for example, even for wedding guests.

Demand remained strong across the board for bookings made in October 2021. Bookings finished ahead of October 2019 by 20% in the Republic of Ireland and 17% in Northern Ireland. In October, although cases were increasing in Ireland, we were still seeing the majority of planned events go ahead and socialising continue – so weekend dates for leisure business stayed strong and there was also an increase in corporate business and events.

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Bookings that followed through

October was overall a great month in relation to bookings that went ahead vs cancellations when we compare it to October 2019. We finished up 15% ahead. The midterm break was a popular time for bookings – one of the key issues we noted were family orientated hotels selling out of family rooms! Another issue was hotels needing to limit dining numbers due to a shortage of staff. These are all issues the industry as a whole is experiencing and navigating through. In Northern Ireland, we saw a 19% growth in volume in October vs October 2019 (this is a slight drop on last month, which saw a 23% growth).

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Dublin’s hotel performance has seemingly dropped -4% compared with October 2019. When it comes to resorts/destination properties, they saw a growth of just 6% in volume, compared with 50% for town properties & 55% for rural properties. This Covid-influenced result shows off an interesting and increased demand in this off-season period for town & rural properties that wasn’t there in October 2019.

Looking ahead

As we’ve said time and time again, the road ahead is slightly unclear. We are in the midst of a heavy case increase, and therefore we cannot make predictions when it comes to restrictions and what they may entail (and when they may be enforced). All we can do is take it day by day and continue to review the situation and be flexible.

That being said, looking forward at this time, and comparing January 2022 to January 2019, we are seeing a 59% growth so far, although these are small figures still (and have dropped from a 77% growth in September). Watch this space, we’ll keep you updated.

Resort/destination properties are well ahead at 99% growth! These properties are continuing (perhaps unsurprisingly, what with the new and long term Covid-conscious consumer) to be booked in massive numbers.

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Cancellations in October

We do predict an increase in cancellations after this week of cautious announcements from the government detailing an increase in restrictions and an indication there could be more to come.

Looking back, 57% of cancellations made in the month of October were for October, with 24% for November in Republic of Ireland hotels. In the North, 52% of cancellations made in October were for October, and 30% for November. This shows a return to last minute/later cancellations which we expect to continue given the current, slightly reactive, climate.

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