UK hotel bookings hit highest level since March 2020

UK hotel booking trends

Hotel bookings in the UK have reached their highest level since the start of the pandemic, according to SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index, sourced from the company’s open hotel commerce platform, used by 35,000 hotels and connected to more than 400 hotel booking channels globally.

This is the most concrete confirmation so far of the “staycation” boom the UK is currently experiencing, with bookings hitting 84.57% of 2019 levels on July 29, 2021 and remaining stable at 84.18% of 2019 levels on August 1, 2021. The bookings are being driven by domestic tourism with 92% of hotel bookings currently coming from within the country.

The UK’s overall hotel bookings, as a comparison to pre-pandemic times, first surpassed the global average on May 9, 2021, and have since grown to sit at 19.99% percentage points above the current global average of 64.19%. The comparative booking levels are also outperforming those in a number of major European markets, including Portugal (82.48%), France (69.7%), Germany (71.36%), the Netherlands (66.77%) and Malta (73.88%).

The vast majority of bookers over the past two weeks are due to arrive at hotels either this August (61.64%) or September (19.15%), showing the extent of the local pent-up demand that has been created from tightened travel restrictions this past year.

UK bookings vs global average as a percentage of 2019 numbers

Domestic vs international bookings as a proportion of total UK hotel reservations as of August 1, 2021 (dynamic monthly numbers updated daily)

UK hotels headed for a sustained recovery

The UK’s coastal destinations have performed especially strongly this year, with hotel bookings in Brighton, for example, currently at 107.72% of 2019 levels—having surpassed pre-pandemic volumes on June 6, 2021, and peaked at 123.29% a few days later.

Edinburgh is another standout destination, sitting at 111.76% of 2019 bookings, while Bristol stands at 97.53% by the same measure. However, growth is also being experienced by destinations that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, including Glasgow (85.29%), Manchester (81.67%) and Birmingham (76.66%), all of which have, over the past week, enjoyed their highest volumes since the start of the pandemic. Hotel bookings in London also continue to grow and currently stand at 65.61% of 2019 levels – the highest since March 2020. This compares favourably to a number of European capitals, including Paris (53.28% of 2019 volumes), Amsterdam (53.24% of 2019 volumes) and Vienna (50.42% of 2019 levels).

“The data from SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index illustrates the diversity and resilience of the UK as a travel destination, with cities of all kinds showing a sustained upwards trend throughout the year,” says James Bishop, Senior Director Global Ecosystem at SiteMinder. “The data is in line with the findings of SiteMinder’s Changing Traveller Report 2021: UK Edition, which found that nearly two-thirds of UK travellers plan to travel either more (26%) or the same amount (35%) as before the pandemic. As a result, we should expect current trends to continue, especially as restrictions continue to ease in light of the UK’s ongoing vaccine programme. While challenges remain, after 18 months, recovery is now in sight for the country’s accommodation providers who should continue to be diligent about ensuring their business is in the best position to succeed now and in the future, and look to technology as a critical enabler.”

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