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As International Tourism Returns, Travel Patterns Resemble Pre-Pandemic Norms

In 2022, travel patterns normalized somewhat as many countries around the world relaxed COVID-19 restrictions and increased booking windows. However, the lack of international travel, especially from Asian countries, continues to be a concern for the US hotel industry.

Compared to 2021 levels, there has been a significant increase in international travel, especially from European countries.

Hannah Huse, vice president of sales and marketing at Twenty Four Seven Hotels, said international travel “improved dramatically in 2022 compared to 2021” across the company’s portfolio.

John Beck, general manager of New York’s Crowne Plaza HY36, said foreign traveler bookings at his hotel were up 83% year-over-year, acknowledging the rise to fully open European countries. said. International travel is expected to reach 2019 levels next year, but tourists from Asian countries, especially China, continue to lag pre-pandemic levels.

Room bookings from Asian countries at Crowne Plaza HY36 in 2022 were only 9% of 2019 levels, Beck said.

One of the key factors is the all-time high in room rates across the United States.

Beck said even if China lifts travel restrictions, it could take up to a year for Chinese tourists to return to New York City due to high rates.

“People understandably don’t want to pay this much for a big international trip that they don’t know what to expect,” Beck said.

Travel from countries such as Thailand and Japan has started to recover as more restrictions are lifted, but Asia’s biggest market, China, has seen virtually nothing last year due to its strict zero-COVID policy. He said he didn’t contribute.

According to Lynette Eastman, general manager of the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, the hotel has booked very few international guests in 2022, with the exception of European travelers. .

European travelers accounted for nearly 9% of all guests in the third quarter of this year, and Eastman said they came from a variety of countries, including Germany and Italy.

She said she renewed optimism that international travel would accelerate as travel from the Oceania region and Japan recovered. said.

Japan accounted for 3% of all 2022 Surfjack bookings. In 2019, it accounted for 17%. Similarly, the Oceania region accounted for 5% of all bookings in 2022, but 20% of bookings in 2019.

“There is still a way,” she said. “That’s not where we want it to be. We prefer a more diverse market. But from 2019 to 2022 she’s very optimistic looking at the pie chart,” she said. Told.

Increased international travel to the U.S. next year will be important for the hotel industry as demand from domestic leisure travelers is expected to decline after hitting record highs in the past two years, Eastman said. .

“Of course, in 2022, all restrictions were relaxed and the continental U.S. share remained at 52%, but I doubt the country will be able to maintain that level in 2023. I traveled,” she said. Told. “Our hope is that the international [demand] Whether it’s Europe, Oceania, Japan or Canada, you’ll feel more confident in your travels and start taking more trips. “

Bookable windows (time between booking and arrival) increased in 2022, slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. Beck said the booking window at Crowne Plaza HY36 is about two weeks for temporary business and he’s 45 to 60 days for leisure travel.

“Thank you to the whole industry because I was sitting in my office on Monday expecting people to show up at my hotel on Friday. did,” he said.

SurfJack’s reliance on direct bookings rather than online travel agencies has helped expand those booking windows, Eastman said, adding that the hotel changed its strategy after the pandemic and that it’s sustainable. He pointed out that it has changed.

“The only good thing I can say about the pandemic is that we have gone from relying on OTAs to becoming self-sufficient in direct real estate,” she said.

In 2019, 48% of bookings on Surfjack were made through OTAs, while 13% were booked directly from the property and 15% were booked directly from the web. These values ​​will almost completely reverse in 2022, with OTAs accounting for only 19% of bookings compared to 47% for Property Direct and 30% for Web Direct.

The proportion of OTA bookings at Crowne Plaza HY36 has similarly contracted, dropping from 44% in 2021 to 38% in 2022. Beck believes it’s because business travelers, in particular, are prioritizing brand loyalty for rewards.

“Now people realize, ‘I need to get my status. I need to keep my brand. So I can get paid to get nice rooms and better rates.’ “I’m starting,” he said.

Eastman said Surfjack will be filling up the room early in the summer and will finish the year off strong at the end of the year.

“We are getting bookings much faster,” she said. I have.”

One of the major travel industry headwinds in 2022 will be the amount of flight delays or cancellations, which continues to be an issue heading into the new year.

The most serious example of this came late this year as Southwest Airlines Over 16,000 flights canceled Since December 23rd, peak holiday travel, due to the shutdown of the entire system.

Generally speaking, the lack of business from guests unable to reach the hotel due to flight delays or cancellations tends to be offset by guests being stranded in the city due to delays or cancellations, Beck said. A shutdown of systems like Southwest’s, however, could have a bigger impact on the hotel industry.

“Flight cancellations tend to wash themselves out. On the other hand, they wash, but it doesn’t really affect business… unless someone’s system goes down and an entire airline can’t fly.”

according to data According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3.2% of flights from reporting airlines have been canceled, up from 2.4% in 2019.

“That was definitely an issue earlier in the year. It was definitely an issue with summer leisure travel,” Beck said.

Huse said the surge in cancellations has led Twenty Four Seven Hotels to increase its forecasted daily cancellation capacity to “offset increased airline uncertainty”.

“We also aim to build relationships with airlines and brokerage accounts to help manage distressed passengers,” she said. “We are also more mindful of our cancellation policies and sympathetic to our guests experiencing unforeseen changes and moves in their travel plans.”

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