As Europe returns to normal following nearly a week of chaos due to Iceland's volcano, travel-related businesses are taking stock of just how Mother Nature affected them. Trust International, a hotel reservation company, offered some insight into disruption to hotel booking patterns since the start of the crisis. The flight cancellations, they report, inevitably changed hotel reservation patterns, but to a lesser extent than one might expect.
In summary, the situation may be considered relatively stable. While cancellations increased to a peak on Monday, April 19, to reach more than 50 percent over normal levels, new reservations also curved upward by more than 25 percent, suggesting travelers were postponing rather than cancelling trips altogether.
Hotels also witnessed significantly increased levels of guests extending their stays and “walk in” bookings as travelers booked hotels after their flights were cancelled, which helped mitigate the effect of the cancellations.
Looking at the booking volumes for future reservations, on Monday, cities such as Barcelona, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London, and Munich were still showing reservation levels broadly similar to Monday of the previous week, and Frankfurt, Rome and Stockholm even had slightly higher reservation numbers.
“Looking at hotel groups using Trust’s services, I believe it is a sign of our strengthening economy that the total reservation levels on Monday were the same or slightly higher than the previous week despite the travel disruptions resulting from the volcanic activity,” said Richard Wiegmann, managing director of Trust International. “Until this incident, the international hotel industry was actually recovering well after a traumatic 2009, and the outlook for the rest of the year was promising. We believe that if the airspace stays open, growth will resume and, most importantly, that there will be no repetition of the major inconvenience experienced by so many travelers over the last six days. If that happens, it appears that the cost will not be quite as great as many had feared just two days ago.
Trust International has prepared a graph showing reservation, cancellation and net booking levels leading up to the volcano, during the air traffic stoppage and after the resumption of air traffic. It represents reservations booked in more than 60 hotel chains through GDSs, OTAs, the Internet and call centers.