Direct bookings on the rise in 2020

The year 2020 sparked a fundamental reset in consumer behaviour and preferences when it came to travel. Indeed, due to restricted movement and economic instability, the consumer of 2020 sought escapes that were secure, spontaneous and never too far from home. And those escapes largely meant one thing: book locally.

SiteMinder, one of the largest global hotel industry’s leading guest acquisition platforms, has unveiled the lists of distribution channels that brought the greatest booking revenue to hotels in 2020 and since the global hotel booking reset began in April. SiteMinder is a reliable source for trends as their channel manager connects some 35,000 properties worldwide to 800 distributors, including the own website’s online booking engine.

The annual lists highlight the sustained growth of direct bookings for hotels, with hotel websites maintaining their top five position in all destinations over the full 2020 year, including in Australia, Ireland and Spain where they ranked as the second-top producer of booking revenue for local hotels. The ranking of hotel websites rose further in more than a third of destinations since April, when hotel bookings dropped to below 10 percent of 2019 levels as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lists, which vary across more than 20 of the world’s most established travel destinations, reveal a broader range of consumer choices and a shift away from the consolidation seen in previous years, with 32 instances of distribution channels making their first appearances and 20 instances of distribution channels climbing at least two positions from the prior year.

Other key findings included:

● The increased popularity of Airbnb as a distribution channel for accommodation providers, especially since April. Airbnb debuted among the Top 12 in nine destinations, rose in five destinations over the full year, and surpassed its full-year ranking in 10 destinations since April.

● The strengthening of local and regional distribution channels as a result of restricted international travel. Over the full 2020 year, they comprised around half of the Top 12 in each destination and were particularly dominant from the start of the global hotel booking reset. While local and regional distribution channels such as Kurzurlaub.de in Austria, VeryChic in France, feratel in Germany, MG bedbank in Indonesia, and Hotels.nl in the Netherlands have not ranked among the Top 12 distribution channels over the full 2020 year, they emerged among the Top 12 since April.

● The explosion in spontaneous travel, spurred by unpredictable changes in travel restrictions. Lastminute.com and HotelTonight collectively feature among the Top 12 lists of nine destinations over the pandemic period.

● The continued relevance of wholesalers, with leading bedbank Hotelbeds among the Top 12 in each destination—both over the full 2020 year and during the pandemic period—and WebBeds among the Top 12 in eight destinations since April.

“The travel disruptions of 2020 levelled the playing field for many distribution channel providers to demonstrate the unique value they provided to consumers and therefore to hotels,” says SiteMinder’s senior director of global demand partnerships, James Bishop. “With international travel restrictions in place and rising cases of coronavirus around the world, many consumers were drawn to local hotel accommodations where the direct hotel website has always performed well, or through local booking channels, which, after an initial slump, saw an uptick from pent-up travel demand. Many other consumers were drawn to the staycation appeal and perceived security of Airbnb-listed properties. SiteMinder’s lists of the Top 12 hotel booking revenue makers are testament to real changes in people’s travel behaviour and preferences during this time.”

Adds James: “Consumers have changed. It is therefore critical that hoteliers assess how and where they sell their rooms, and ensure they embrace the distribution channels—global and local, direct and indirect—with proven effectiveness in securing reservations and revenue.”

The Top 12 hotel booking channels in 2020, based on total gross revenue made for all users of SiteMinder’s platform, were:

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