As uncertainty around travel continues into the new year, latest hotel and flight search data paints an alternative picture of optimism for the year ahead. Two weeks into 2022, and searches suggest that consumers are already looking ahead to the next travel windows in spring and summer, indicating growing consumer confidence that they will be able to travel to popular summer destinations in the medium to long term.
The forward-looking data, collated using OTA Insight's Global Market Insight tool, examines consolidated flight and hotel searches over the past week to measure future market demand. The tool is the first of its kind, and provides the pandemic-stricken travel industry with opportunities to move from recovery towards growth by looking into predictive data sets that indicate on what dates people are looking to travel and what parts of the market they are scanning for hotels.
In the week up to the 9th of January, Santorini, Greece saw an increase in flight searches by 89% from the previous week. Hotel searches for the island also increased by 92% from the previous week as consumers start planning their summer vacations. 87% of the flight searches were looking ahead to April, just as 92% of the hotel searches were for a similar travel window.
Hotel demand starts to increase towards the end of March, driven by both short and long haul source markets. 75% of the hotel searches originated from within Europe, while 21% originated in the Americas. 20% of all hotel searches in the week were from the United Kingdom and 16% were from the United States. With only 8% of hotel searches for travel within the next 90 days, there is a clear indication that consumer confidence for travel is growing and that consumers are looking ahead to late spring and early summer as the first window to take advantage of for the year and will need to make their plans well in advance to ensure their trips are secured.
Portugal’s capital has also seen a spike in searches in the first week of January. There was a 63% increase in flight searches and 62% increase in hotel searches week on week. The short term demand for travel to Portugal remains low, with less than 20% of flights and hotels for trips within the next 28 days, again showing there is market interest in travel in the long term. As more becomes known about the Omicron variant and countries respond by easing their restrictions, it is possible that shorter search windows will emerge in the data, indicating consumers growing confidence and intent to travel to destinations like Lisbon.
With much of Europe still facing the uncertainty around Omicron, and the resulting travel restrictions, consumers are looking further ahead to the beginning of summer, when demand increases midway through April. And, with much of the search emanating from the USA and Brazil, there are increasing signs of a return to long haul travel. Global Distribution System (GDS) searches saw an increase of 130% to Lisbon in the first week of January, for prospective dates within the next month, perhaps indicating that consumers are also interested in using traditional travel agencies as well as metasearch sites in a post-pandemic world.
After lifting some of its travel restrictions on the 7th of January, Mauritius too has seen an increase in search traffic. While strict testing protocols still remain in place, search patterns indicate a keen interest in travel to the idyllic African island. Hotel searches increased by 61% in the first full week of January, with 77% of the searches originating from Europe. The lifting of targeted restrictions against travel from southern Africa translated into 11% of the hotel searches from there. Demand again increases towards the middle of April, as 48% of potential travellers are looking at hotel availability more than 90 days away. With 33% of hotel searches for dates between 28 and 90 days away, slightly up from the previous week, medium term confidence seems to be returning.
For an industry still reeling from the effects of two long years of the pandemic, gauging true consumer demand will be key to accelerating recovery in a volatile market. While uncertainty at the start of 2022 still lingers in the short term, positive signs can be seen in the medium to short term. Armed with forward looking data from Global Market Insight, hoteliers can make decisions to turn these early indicators into opportunities.