Traffic on hotel websites in Europe is picking up fast with some cities already back to pre-Covid-19 levels while others are still floundering

24 July, 2020

If we can remember back to the days before Covid-19 most of us never gave a second thought to the idea of staying in a hotel. We would think of location, price and luxury level and probably book according to company policy. How things have changed as the virus has spread and our confidence in the cleanliness and safety of the travel experience has waned.

Hotel bookings naturally dropped off dramatically as we all went into lockdown and hotels have had to work hard to incorporate new protocols and ensure their property and staff meet high cleanliness and safety standards.

Never before have customer reviews been more important to help us determine if a hotel is living up to its marketing hype. Even if we never used them before it is likely more of us will take time to see what previous guests made of the hotel’s new protocols.

Customer Alliance, the B2B software provider, has analysed around 18 million online hotel reviews in 16 metropolises in Europe, Americas and Asia and compared the first half of 2020 to levels in 2019.

Globally, Shanghai is showing the strongest growth in the number of reviews, now at 55% below the 2019 level. Hong Kong is also increasing the number of reviews, although still below 2019 levels, but New York is floundering with the review volume down 95% on 2019, the lowest among major global cities.

In Europe, Berlin is doing better than other European cities with a volume of reviews just 79% below 2019. London is at the other end of the scale and 98% below 2019 review levels.

Domestically, Shanghai is now just 37% below 2019 review levels for the week commencing 21-Jun-2020, compared to the lowest week, 10-Feb-2020, when it was 90% below 2019 levels. For those same weeks Hong Kong was seeing review levels of 65% below 2019 levels compared to 81% in Feb-2020. As we progress through July it can be assumed that these levels are still rising.

Customer Alliance has also analysed data provided by its widget to evaluate traffic on hotel websites. The widget is used by hotels to display the average review score to all website visitors and to convert more direct bookings.

In the week starting 01-Jun-2020, traffic on hotel websites finally reached its pre-Covid-19 levels, as recorded in the week commencing 03-Feb-2020. Within one week the activity levels grew from 61% to 102%. Naturally some countries have seen more activity than others.

Looking at Europe and specifically Austria, France, Germany and Italy, Customer Alliance saw France and Italy taking great strides to catch up and are now on top of the European comparison. In the week commencing 22-Jun-2020 Italian hotel websites achieved a growth of 114%, and the traffic on French websites had an increase of 106% compared to the numbers in Feb-2020.

At the same time, Germany and Austria are still slightly below the levels of February with an increase of 96% and 82% respectively.

These may be small beginnings but it is encouraging to see that hotel traffic is beginning to pick up and we are gaining confidence in their ability to keep us safe.