New top-of-funnel search data available from OTA Insight shows the announcement of several promising COVID-19 vaccines might be the shot in the arm hotels needed to get a true recovery under way.
Immediately after announcements in early November that drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna had successfully trialed vaccines at around 95% effectiveness, flight searches for several top European cities skyrocketed.
OTA Insight has been analysing search data for flights to Paris, London, Dubai and Barcelona all year. The number of potential travellers searching for flights to these regions slowly increased throughout the summer but took a turn for the worse after summer ended, COVID cases began rising, and increased travel restrictions were put in place.
However, after 9 November, around the time drugmakers made their vaccine findings public, flight searches to these four cities shot up nearly 30%.
While the number of travelers searching for flight doesn’t necessarily translate into hotel bookings, it’s an early indicator that travelers are confident the availability of vaccines will once again allow them to get back on the road. Companies have been awaiting news of some normalcy before allowing their employees to plan business trips, and families have been looking for any signs that they can safely take the vacations they’ve postponed throughout 2020.
Later in November, a third drug company, AstraZeneca, announced late-stage trials of a vaccine were highly effective. AstraZeneca has said it will sell its vaccine at cost, around $2.50 per dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government. All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.
Based on the number of people researching trips, vaccine availability has been the most promising sign thus far that travel may soon return to some sort of normalcy.
In the U.S., the number of airline passengers that passed through TSA on the weekend before Thanksgiving was the highest it has been since March. Despite increased travel restrictions, the number of Americans taking flights has increased steadily throughout the year. However, the total number of passengers on any given day still remains at about 45% of the number of passengers on the same days in 2019.
Hotel sales and marketing roles have changed quite drastically since this time last year, and the smartest hoteliers have pivoted their strategies – altering their competitive sets, reaching out to new sources of business, creating new promotions and changing rates multiple times a day.
Fortunately, there are new tools and new sets of data to help hoteliers not only target new sets of travelers but measure how their hotel is stacking up against their competitive set. With historical data rendered nearly useless, many sales and marketing teams have turned to more top-of-funnel data sets, finding ways to target travelers earlier in their booking journey.
But to truly get ahead of the competition, marketers must know as much as they can about potential guests before they book a room, not waiting until reservations are “on the books.”
Marketing teams can view search data to determine what options potential travelers are searching for in the research and dreaming phases. This data – available from OTAs, the GDS, Google and sometimes even the hotel’s own booking engine – can help operators tailor packages and promotions to ensure they’re positioned to capture any incoming demand.
Flight search and flight booking information is becoming increasingly valuable. As hotels all fight for the same small part of the pie, understanding what flights are being booked for their market can help hotel marketers get in front of travelers before they’ve decided what accommodations are right for them.
Market Insight from OTA Insight cultivates flight information for the top destination markets across the world, giving hotel marketers a much clearer picture of the actual demand headed toward their area. Armed with this information, hoteliers can get a clearer picture of high-demand days and set aggressive strategies to capture the most travelers on the busiest days.
If hoteliers know exactly how many travelers are flying into their market during a particular week or weekend, they can benchmark booking performance against their competitors - ensuring they’re getting their fair share of business.