Forward looking data shows promising signs of returning consumer confidence in the travel industry as hotels in Europe gear up for a summer bloom. The data, from OTA Insight’s Market Insight tool, shows large upticks in early demand for popular European summer destinations, a clear indicator that consumers are exploring travel options after months of pent up demand.
In an industry subdued by the pandemic, in which traditional consumer booking behaviour and demand patterns have shifted, it has been more difficult for hoteliers to accurately forecast. Now, with forward looking data from Market Insight hoteliers, and their commercial teams, have an opportunity to capitalise on any early demand and implement a dynamic pricing strategy, ensuring they capture their fair share of the market with the most appropriate pricing and promotional decisions. And, as early demand for Greece rises, we examine their hotel rate strategies, using data from OTA Insight’s Rate Insight.
Hotel Search Evolution Greece
Data from OTA Insight’s free Global Market Insight tool shows that hotel searches increased by 20% from the start of February, and there was 2.8 times more search traffic than the same period last year, a promising sign for the Island of the Sun.
Hotel searches display that 85% of the traffic is coming from Europe, with 29% from the UK, 16% from Germany, 10% from France, and 9% from Italy. 57.4% of hotel searches were for a length of stay (LOS) between 4 and 7 days, though potential customers from the Netherlands were searching for an average of 8.2 nights, and those from the UK were for an average of 7.2 nights. Most hotel searches (81%) are for dates more than 90 days from travel, with demand picking up for the last week of May. The widening booking window and increased LOS is a strong indication that traveller confidence is very much on the rise in the source countries listed.
Rhodes OTA/MetaSearch lead time evolution
Diving a little deeper into the rate strategies that Rhodes hoteliers have been employing, 97% of hotels are not offering a length-of-stay (LOS) discount with just 2% offering a 5% discount on 3 nights. However, it must be noted that most shoppers are searching for stays between 4 and 7 nights. Interestingly, in January, 25% of hotels were offering at least a 5% discount on 3 nights, indicating that they have adjusted their strategy as demand has picked up for the start of summer.
Looking at the cancellation strategies of hotels in Rhodes, 78% of hotels have a BAR that includes cancellation within 7 days of travel, including 17% who allow cancellation the day before arrival, and 4% that allow cancellation on the day of arrival. 15% of hotels are offering semi-flex rates this month compared to the end of January, when 10% of hotels were offering these conditions.
At the same time, 44% have a non-refundable rate. At the end of January, 54% of hotels were offering a non-refundable rate for future bookings in the next 90 days, while at the end of February, 44% of hotels were offering non-refundable rates. Since the end of January, the number of hotels offering semi-flex rates has increased while the number of hotels offering non-refundable rates has decreased
On the island of Crete, hotel searches have increased by 21% from the start of February, and there were three times more hotel searches than there were at the end of February 2021. 94% of flight searches were from Europe, with 25% from Germany, 20% from Greece, and 19% from the UK. 65% of the hotel searches in the week ending on the 28th of February were for travel dates more than 90 days ahead, with demand rising for the end of May and peaking in July and August. 29% of the hotel searches in that week were for travel dates in the 29-90 day window, for dates leading up to and including the Easter break in April. 54% of the searches to Crete were for a length of stay between 4 - 7 nights, while 25% were for stays between 8 - 14 nights, following a similar trend as Rhodes in terms of traveller confidence, through more advanced bookings and longer LOS.
Crete Meta/OTA search evolution timeline index
Not surprisingly due to the rise in demand, 94% of hotels are not offering any LOS discount, an evolution from the end of January when 24% were offering some form discount on a two night stay. While hotels are now offering less on their LOS discounts for the summer period, the average breakfast cost shows a decrease by 21% since the end of January, from an average of $8.98 to $7.07.
Additionally, just 10% of hotels have a semi-flex rate, while 57% have non-refundable rates as of the end of February, a shift from the end of January when 6% were using semi-flex rates, and 40% had non-refundable rates.
The breakdown of cancellation days before arrival varies between hotels in Crete, with 27% having a best flexible rate which includes cancellation 14 days before arrival. Other hotels are offering a bit more leniency; a further 27% allow free cancellation between 1 and 3 days of arrival, and 24% of hotels offer free cancellation 7 days before arrival.
Crete Cancellation Days Before Arrival
Since the start of February, Santorini has seen an increase of 37% in hotel search traffic, and there has been 3 times more search traffic than over the same period in 2021. 71% of the traffic is coming from European sources, with 19% originating in the UK, 17% from USA, 11% from France, and 10% from Italy.
While 66% of OTA and meta searches were for dates more than 90 days away, there has been a steady increase in searches in the 22-90 day travel window since January. This once again indicates that confidence among travellers for the mid to longer term is growing.
There are early signs of increased demand for dates at the beginning of April, increasing towards the middle of the month. The end of May shows the beginning of summer demand. Flight searches indicate that 51.1% of flight searches for the island were for stays between 4 - 7 nights, while 23% were for 3 nights. Searches originating from the UK show that shoppers were looking for a LOS averaging 5.8 nights, and those from the USA were looking at an average of 4.4 nights.
Predictably, there are no LOS discounts at 98% of hotels in Santorini. 66% of hotels are offering non-refundable rates, while just 3% are offering semi-flex rates, increasing from the 52% of hotels that were offering non-refundable rates at the end of January. There is also less flexibility in the cancellation policies of hotels in Santorini. 67% are allowing free cancellation 14 days or more from the date of travel. 5% of hotels have a BAR that includes cancellation within 3 days of travel.
Greece Percentage of Hotels Using Non-Refundable, Semi-Flex rates
Athens has seen the sharpest increase in hotel searches, rising by 44% since the start of February and more than five times more search traffic than the same time last year, and 27% more searches than when it had its peak search traffic in July 2021. 23% of hotel searches are from the USA, and 14% are from the UK. An increasing number, 38%, are for travel dates in the 29-90 day window, though 39% are looking at dates more than 90 days ahead - a significant sign of increased consumer confidence.
While Athens is seeing nearly 4 times more flight search traffic than the end of February 2021, flight searches decreased by 24% in the last week of February. Still, 90% of flight search traffic is coming from Europe and 41.4% of shoppers are looking for a trip averaging 4-7 days. However, hotel search patterns suggest that there is quite a lot of variation in the length of stay in Athens, which correlates to traveller patterns pre-pandemic where Athens was visited both for a city break and as base when Greek island hopping. 22% are searching for availability for 1 night, 20% are searching for 2 nights and 21% of searches are looking for a 3 night hotel stay. 33% are looking for stays between 4 and 7 nights.
Athens Meta/OTA search evolution timeline index
In Athens, 11% of hotels are incentivising a longer stay, with a LOS3 discount, while 7% are offering a LOS2 discount. Of the hotels offering a LOS3 discount, 9% are for discounts greater than 5%. There has been a clear shift in LOS strategies by hotels in Athens, where at the end of January 2022, 41% of hotels were discounting on a 3 night stay, and 27% on a 2 night stay. 70% of hotels offer a non-refundable rate, while 19% of hotels in Athens offer a semi-flex rate. 86% of hotels are offering the best flexible rate that includes free cancellation within 3 days of travel. Of those, 5% permit free cancellation on the same day of travel and 42% allow free cancellation within 24 hours of travel, indicating high competition between hotels in the cancellation space.
Athens Cancellation Days Before Arrival
Early demand signals show that Greek hotels can look forward to a busy summer. Forward-looking data paints a rosy picture, but it is important as well that hotels there are thinking about their pricing strategies so that they are able to convert demand into bookings, and capture their share of the market at the best possible price.
There is also still potential to offer more competitive cancellation conditions as a strategy to capture more market share, especially while there is still market uncertainty and geo-political instability in Europe. But, by using real-time, actionable data to keep a close eye on their competitors, their rate strategies, and their cancellation competitiveness, hoteliers can create more opportunities for themselves and ensure they don’t lose out.