American travelers are apt to spend extra time looking before they book when it comes to hotels, but last-minute bookings are still on the rise, according to Sojern's latest Hotel Insights Report.
“We found that two major behavior changes are rising in the consumer hotel world,” said Kurt Weinsheimer, Sojern’s SVP of property solutions. "Firstly, travelers are spending more time on the hotel path to purchase than they do when looking to buy an airline ticket - U.S. travelers, for instance, spent nearly 25 percent more time on their hotel path to purchase then when booking flights. Secondly, even as the path to purchase lengthens, last-minute bookers are multiplying.”
Though only 5 percent of all hotel searches by Europeans and Americans are initiated seven or fewer days prior to the stay date, these last-minute shoppers represented 11 percent and 13 percent, respectively, of all hotel bookings in the two regions. Flight search sees a similar phenomenon, with larger proportions of people booking last-minute travel than searching, for both Europeans and Americans.
More than half of all hotel searches are conducted in the two weeks before the booking. The number of searches conducted prior to a booking is directly proportional with the price of the room being booked: the higher the hotel segment eventually booked, the more searches were made. For travelers who start to research hotel options three days before making the booking, the Luxury segment hotel guests make on average 20 searches, while Upper Midscale guests make an average of 12 searches.
Looking at the global average, guests staying at Luxury segment hotels are more likely to have arrived at their destination on a Business or First class ticket than guests of all other hotel segments: 15 percent flew first class and 4 percent Business class.
Travelers to Asia-Pacific and, to a lesser extent, the Middle East, stand out from the rest of the regions studied. In the Asia-Pacific region, Business Class flights are significantly more likely for travelers across the hotel segment spectrum: almost 26 percent of guests staying at Luxury hotels, 23 percent of Upper Upscale, and almost 20 percent of Upscale, flew in Business Class. In the Middle East, 18 percent of Luxury and 17 percent of Upper Upscale hotel bookers flew in Business Class.
Over the past two quarters, leisure hotel travelers searched for lengthy stays in every region. In the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, destinations like Dubai, Istanbul, and Bangkok propelled their respective countries to the top ten. In the Americas, leisure travelers looked at the U.S., Mexico, and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean for getaways, often in parties of two.
Business travelers showed much more interest in Asia-Pacific destinations like India and Indonesia, two popular launchpads for travel in the region. Popular leisure destinations like Mexico and Spain still rank in the top ten of business destinations, but fall to spots nine and ten respectively.
In the U.S. this fall, with a drop of 50 spots, Myrtle Beach is on track to be demoted from hot summer destination to fastest declining hotel city in Q4 compared to Q3. Austin, Texas, takes first place for rising hotel destinations, jumping a full 37 spots from Q3 to Q4, followed by Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix.
With ripple effects from the Chinese stock market crash still taking effect, hotel intent from both Greece and Russia is expected to take a downturn as we close the year. On the flipside, American travelers are beginning to search and book hotels abroad at faster rates, riding the wave of a stronger dollar.