SiteMinder: End-of-year hotel bookings spike

A further easing of restrictions over the past month has allowed confidence to build, as travelers prepare for a holiday season away from home. Currently, SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index shows us that an average of more than one-in-five existing hotel bookings globally are for the three weeks leading up to the end of the year, while an average of almost 10% of booked stays are due for arrival in the week around New Year’s Eve.

As a result of the end-of-year celebration rush, global hotel booking momentum remains stable, hovering at around 80% of pre-pandemic volumes. Only six countries on the World Hotel Index now sit below 50% of their 2019 reservation numbers, compared to nine at this time in October and 23 countries six months ago in May. More than three-in-five countries are now above 70% of their pre-pandemic levels.

Partly responsible are a range of eased restrictions and greater international movement. So far in November, international travelers have made up 51.32% of hotel bookings, when averaging the ratios of the countries on the World Hotel Index, up from 49.03% at this time in October and 44.84% in August.

Chile’s hotel booking momentum for the first time tops the World Hotel Index globally, thanks to its removal of quarantine requirements and one of the highest vaccination rates on earth. The timing is ideal for the country, as the peak summer period and Antarctic cruise season approach, capping off a strong month for the region. Mexico and Costa Rica are positioned second and fourth on the World Hotel Index, when ranking all countries by their current booking volumes compared to their respective pre-pandemic levels, while the U.S. and Canada have recently reached 20-month highs.

In the U.S., hotel booking momentum is now above 90% of 2019 levels, thanks to eased restrictions on a long list of countries and the reopening of borders with Canada and Mexico. The country had been closed to non-essential international travel since March 2020.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand’s reopening to quarantine-free travel at the start of the month has prompted hotel bookings to rally, as travelers target December and the new year. And, Australia’s hotel bookings are again above the global average, having slipped below it in mid-July.

Europe still has the largest number of countries outpacing their pre-pandemic booking volumes, thanks to the hotels of Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Estonia and Sweden. As restrictions remain eased across the continent, winter holidays that were put on hold last year are now officially getting underway, creating an uptick of international arrivals to locations such as Finland and Norway.