European Habitation Barometer: Smiles of optimism for European and Greek hoteliers | Risks and challenges

HOTELS REPORTS TOURISM WORLD

After an unprecedented summer of 2023 fuelled by the fervent enthusiasm of visitors in the first truly post-pandemic travel season, European hoteliers are seeing a rebalancing to a new high across a number of key performance indicators, with two-thirds (65%) reporting positive business development in the last 6 months, demonstrating strong performance. While, 63% rate their current financial situation as good or very good. The picture is similar in Greece, where a very high level of optimism prevails, although it is reduced compared to that of summer 2023. These are some of the conclusions drawn from the European Accommodation Barometer, published by Booking.com in collaboration with Statista.

Specifically, in Greece, for every property that recorded negative business performance in the last 6 months, 10 others recorded positive business performance.

The perception of room rate and occupancy growth trajectories have all declined since the 2023 peak and despite concerns over energy costs, potential tax increases and geopolitical uncertainties, the level of optimism for Greek hotel growth is at historically high levels.

According to the findings of the survey, which was conducted from 6 February to 22 March 2024, in a sample of 940 hotel executives and managers in Europe, 43% of Greek hoteliers estimate that the average daily rate (ADR) will record strong growth in 2024, compared to 8% who believe the opposite.

 

Meanwhile, more than half (59%) believe that occupancy rates will also register strong growth, compared to 11% who believe otherwise.

In addition, 20% believe they will have access to finance and capital, while 35% believe they will not.

Finally, 13% have increased investment plans for the next 6 months, compared to 20% who have fewer.

With an eye on the peak summer season, attention is focused on the needs and desires of potential visitors, with 50% of European accommodation establishments reporting that visitors prefer shorter stays, up 6 percentage points since the last Barometer.

Almost half of respondents (48%) say their guests are booking earlier, while 45% share that their guests are now booking cheaper rooms. The latter corresponds to nearly half of European properties reporting an increase in average daily rates (48%) and a rise in occupancy rates (49%). Perhaps most importantly, 46% of respondents report that guests are opting for more restrictive cancellation policies, a shift from the previous trend towards flexibility and an increase of 15 percentage points since the last survey.

Hoteliers continue to face a number of macro and microeconomic challenges: staff costs (65%) and lack of skilled workers (61%) were the main issues on the minds of many, while other factors such as potential tax increases (58%), geopolitical uncertainties (55%) and bureaucracy (53%) were identified as potential economic risks for European hoteliers.

Nevertheless, European properties are also embracing a multitude of opportunities to improve the guest experience: investing in style/aesthetics (69%) and comfort (67%) ranked high on the list of priorities, followed by incentivising and encouraging repeat visits (67%) and improving social media marketing (66%).

Sustainability remains high on the agenda for many, with 41% of respondents saying they are concerned about climate change and the impact it will have on their business over the next three years, and 45% intend to allocate almost a quarter of planned investment to improvements in this area.

Motivation varies: 67% will invest in the hope of achieving long-term cost savings, which is likely to correlate with 78% who see energy costs as the number one risk to their business.

Meanwhile, the impending legislation is likely to be of concern to many, as 51% intend to invest to meet government requirements and 48% to achieve third-party certification – also seen as a significant opportunity by almost half of European hoteliers (49%).

86% of European hoteliers consider visitors from Europe important to the success of their business, while 76% consider the same for domestic visitors and 57% for international visitors from outside Europe.

Hotels in Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain consider European visitors the most important, but international long-haul visitors are more important.

“It is extremely encouraging to see the fourth edition of the European Accommodation Barometer revealing a continued increase in economic positivity, with European hoteliers sharing great optimism ahead of the peak summer season,” said Peter Lochbihler, Senior Director of Public Affairs at Booking.com.

“However, it is vital that we continue to delve deeper into the potential barriers they continue to face and look at how we can best, as an industry, work together to ensure the continued growth and success of hotel and holiday rental businesses in Europe.”

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