HOTREC’s Fifth Hotel Distribution Study Shows How the Pandemic Has Changed Hotel Booking Habits in Europe

Evolution of direct bookings and bookings via online intermediaries in Europe 2013 – 2021 — Photo by HOTREC

Nearly 3,900 European hoteliers from across Europe, of various locations, sizes and star ratings, provided responses covering the source of bookings made in pandemic year 2021. Several major trends emerge from the responses, which were collected and analyzed by Prof. Roland Schegg from the HES-SO Valais-Wallis Institute of Tourism:

  • The the share of direct bookings has increasedlargely through bookings made by email or through hoteliers’ websites, for the first time since HOTREC began conducting this study in 2014.
  • Despite more direct bookings, 2021 results show that the dependence of hotels on OTAs remains almost at the same level as in 2019.
  • Booking Holding is by far the most influential player, with a 71.2% share of the OTA market. Booking’s dominance has increased over the past 8 years by more than 11 percentage points, from 60.0% in 2013 to 71.2% in 2021.
  • Most hoteliers (55%) feel pressured by OTAs to agree to platform terms and conditions that hotels would otherwise voluntarily not offer.
  • In 2021, Hotel Ads by Google is the market leader in meta-search (73%) followed by Tripadvisor (57%) and Trivago (44%). In 2013, Tripadvisor led the market with a usage share of 71%.

Markus Luthe, Chairman of the HOTREC Working Group on Distribution and CEO of the German Hotel Association (IHA), said:The increase in direct bookings would be welcome were it not for the more devastating effects of the pandemic on the European hotel sector. Direct contact with hoteliers was undeniably reassuring for travelers during the pandemic as specific concerns and questions can be easily addressed via a simple phone call or email. Important reminder: these advantages of booking directly are just as valid in normal times! We hope this trend will persist as the tourism and hospitality industry recovers.

HOTREC’s Managing Director, Marie Audren, said:In terms of online intermediation, the hotel distribution market is more than ever concentrated in the hands of a single company. We look forward to repeating this study in 2024 and 2026 to concretely assess the impacts of new EU rules affecting online platforms, such as the Digital Markets and Services Act.

HOTREC would like to warmly thank its Members and European hoteliers for their active contribution to the study and Prof. Roland Schegg for processing the results for the fifth time. The full results of the study can be downloaded here.

Revenue ManagementOnline Travel Agencies (OTA)

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