Skift Recovery Index: July 2021 Highlights

Overview

This report highlights the latest insights from the Skift Recovery Index. The index covers travel’s performance since January 2020, up to and including July 2021.

The Skift Recovery Index is a real-time measure of where the travel industry at large — and the core verticals within it — stands in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides the travel industry with a powerful tool for strategic planning, of utmost importance in this uncertain business climate.

We work with Amadeus, Aviasales, Beyond, Cendyn, Collinson, Criteo, Duetto, ForwardKeys, Hotelbeds, Key Data Dashboard, OAG, Onyx CenterSource, RateGain, Shiji Group, SimilarWeb, Skyscanner, Sojern, Transparent, and TrustYou as data partners to provide you with a monthly update of travel performance in 22 countries around the world.

Recovery Stalls as Summer Fades

As we are in the midst of the summer break, we provide a swift update of travel’s recovery this month. After the break we will start providing more in-depth analysis again.

July saw a stalling of the global recovery which had been strong over the past months. While July 2021 looks much more positive than July 2020, destinations and operators will feel some trepidation about the fact that July, normally a bumper month for destinations in the northern hemisphere, was not shaping up to what it might have been.

As we discuss in almost every Highlights report since the Index’s inception, recovery is extremely unequal.

2020 saw very similar recovery trajectories for all regions, with the exception of Europe which registered a real bump in travel volumes over the summer months, followed by the worst performance of any region during the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. While things have improved for European destinations in 2021, its current recovery path is completely in parallel with that of 2020, obviously with the hope that there won’t be a slump after the summer season. Worryingly, however, new Covid cases are again increasing in many European destinations as countries struggle to tame the Delta variant.

Interestingly, the country with the highest number of new cases was the UK, which also had its much anticipated and postponed ‘Freedom Day’ — the day that all lockdown restrictions were lifted — on the 19th of July. In the build-up to this date, the UK had already seen a stark improvement in its score, and while July saw a relatively tempered increase of 3 index points compared to June, it did provide some much needed relief for many destinations that rely heavily on UK travelers.

According to data from Skyscanner, bookings for outbound flights from the UK jumped up after July 8, which was the day it was confirmed that ‘Freedom Day’ would go ahead. Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal were the most searched international destinations according to Skyscanner.

Worries As Delta Spreads Across the Globe

For all intents and purposes, the Delta variant has now truly spread across the entire globe. The U.S. is seeing a sharp increase in new Covid cases mostly driven by the Delta variant, and many Asian countries are setting new daily case records since the beginning of the pandemic.

A recent note by JP Morgan’s economists Jesse Edgerton and Peter McCrory warned that: “COVID case counts are still growing rapidly, even in highly-vaccinated states. Google search data suggest that public focus on the Delta variant has intensified in recent weeks, and Chase card spending in some travel and entertainment categories has fallen.” The U.S. saw a decline in its Index score for the first time since November 2020.

In Asia also, July started to see an uptick in new cases, and this trend is ramping up further at present. Australia has been particularly hit, with STR noting that hotel occupancy has been on a rapid decline since new and extended restrictions have been put in place. The country saw the largest slump in our July update. In Indonesia, hoteliers have been hoisting white flags in protest against renewed lockdown measures.

Thailand has the lowest Index score of any country we track, and the government has recently announced that it is extending lockdown and curfew measures for an additional two weeks until at least August 18th. A recent report by Horwath HTL said RevPAR for Bangkok hotels will not return to the pre-pandemic level until 2025 due to the gradual rebound of tourism demand compared to supply. Vaccine shortages and the effectiveness of these vaccines add to this tempered forecast.

However, there are some bright spots. The Thai government’s Sandbox pilot program continues. In the pilot program, Phuket Island, one of the largest Thai destinations in normal times, opened up on July 1st for fully vaccinated travelers with no requirement to quarantine, but with access to the mainland cut off. Since reopening, 335,000 hotel nights have been sold, representing total revenue of 1 billion baht ($30 million). Further activity is expected in August and September, with a total target of 8.9 billion baht in revenues ($266 million).

Data Partners

We would like to thank the following partners who are collaborating with Skift Research by providing their data which shapes the Skift Recovery Index.

Amadeus is a global travel technology leader that delivers the most trusted, critical systems across the travel industry to airlines, airports, hotels, travel agents, and car rental and railway providers. Amadeus is providing insight on travel search trends and behavior for the Skift Recovery Index.

Aviasales was launched as a blog on bargain air tickets in 2007 and grew out to become the world’s biggest independent travel search. Aviasales serves 20 million monthly active users from Eastern Europe & Central Asia, and provides flight and hotel booking data for Russian travelers for the index.

Beyond is a leading revenue management platform for short-term rental owners and managers to get, grow, and keep revenue. The easy-to-use platform includes a dynamic, demand-driven pricing tool with extensive market data that pairs with OTA distribution and a best-in-class booking engine. Beyond has supported over 340,000 properties in more than 7,500 cities worldwide and have enabled billions of dollars in booking revenue. The company provides data on Revenue per Available Night (RevPAN) for the index.

Cendyn’s software solutions drive sales, marketing, and revenue performance for tens of thousands of hotels across the globe with a focus on integrated hotel CRM, hotel sales, and revenue strategy technology platforms. The company provides data on hotel email campaigns for the index.

Collinson is a global travel services business, creating traveler experiences, loyalty strategy and programs, travel insurance, and travel and medical assistance. Priority Pass is operated by Collinson and provides frequent travelers access to over 1,300 lounges, with Collinson providing aggregated customer lounge visit data for the index.

Criteo is a global technology company powering the world’s marketers with trusted and impactful advertising. The company provides indexed data from various OTA, airline, and car rental partners. Criteo provides data for airline and car rental web traffic and sales.

Duetto delivers a suite of cloud applications to simplify hospitality revenue decisions and allow hoteliers to work smarter, increasing organizational efficiency, revenue, and profitability. More than 4,000 hotel and casino resort properties in more than 60 countries have partnered to use Duetto’s applications. Duetto provides hotel bookings and cancellations data.

ForwardKeys analyzes more than 17 million flight booking transactions each day, drawing data from all the major global air reservation systems, and selected airlines and tour operators. ForwardKeys is providing flight booking and passenger volumes data.

Hotelbeds provides over 180,000 hotels across the globe with access to high-value, complementary distribution channels that do not compete with the hotelier’s direct distribution strategy. The company provides data on hotel bookings and source market performance.

Key Data Dashboard is a provider of real-time, direct-source vacation rental data for the short-term rental sector, aggregating data sourced directly from more than 30+ reservation systems of 700+ professional property managers around the world. Key Data provides bookings, RevPAR and cancellations data for the Skift Recovery Index.

OAG collects and analyzes data about every journey, every booking, every take-off and landing, departure, and delay, totalling over 110,000 flights, 100,000 schedule changes daily and over 4 million flight status updates. OAG provides flight capacity data for the Skift Recovery Index.

Onyx CenterSource is a leading global provider of business-to-business payments and business intelligence solutions to the hospitality industry. With a legacy dating to 1992, the company facilitates in excess of $2.1 billion in payments annually, and partners with more than 150,000 hotel properties. The company provides hotel stay, cancellations, and commission data.

RateGain helps travel and hospitality companies with cognitive revenue management, smart e-distribution, and brand engagement. RateGain supports over 250,000 hotel properties globally by providing 240 billion rate and availability updates, and powering over 30 million bookings. For the Index, RateGain provides hotel bookings and cancellation data.

Shiji Group provides software solutions and services for the hospitality, food service, retail, and entertainment industries, serving over 74,000 hotels, 200,000 restaurants and 600,000 retail outlets across the world. Shiji Group provides China hotel bookings and room night data for the Skift Recovery Index.

SimilarWeb gathers digital data from multiple sources, including first-party direct measurement, public data sources, anonymous behavioral data, and external partners. For the Index, SimilarWeb provides unique visitor data to the top 10 travel websites per country.

Skyscanner has 100 million peak monthly active users, over 100 million app downloads, and more than 1,200 partners across flights, hotels, car rental, and more. Skyscanner’s Travel Insight product helps companies guide their COVID-19 recovery plans, and the company contributes flight search data from Travel Insight for the Skift Recovery Index.

Sojern provides digital marketing solutions for the travel industry, helping to drive direct demand for more than 10,000 hotels, attractions, tourism boards, and travel marketers. Sojern contributes flight and hotel search data for the Skift Recovery Index.

Transparent provides business intelligence serving the vacation rental industry, including insights around supply growth, demand patterns, rate changes, and property manager activities. Transparent contributes occupancy and bookings data for the Skift Recovery Index. The company draws on data from the 34 million vacation rental listings they track worldwide, in every geography.

TrustYou provides a guest feedback platform that makes listening to customers easy, powerful, and actionable. In response to the current crisis, TrustYou has put together a Travel Health Index, using hotel reviews managed through its platform as a proxy for hotel occupancy. TrustYou’s Travel Health Index is integrated in the Skift Recovery Index.

Data Tables