The Global Travel Health Index Gap Is Closing – What’s Next For Hospitality?

Closing the gap: who will set the new pace in the race for hotel recovery?

Ever since the COVID-19 crisis hit the global market, we at TrustYou made it our mission to keep a close eye on the ongoing changes and progress in the hospitality industry, as seen through the volume of guest reviews. The Travel Health Index, our exclusive KPI, made it easy for hoteliers around the world to assess the various phases of retraction and recovery in their particular region and view the gap between markets within the global context.

Hotel recovery as a concept first made itself known in Asia, when countries such as China and Taiwan left the Lockdown status behind back in June 2020 and moved up a level on the THI key. Soon after, Europe positioned itself ahead of the recovery race by moving on even from the Severe status at the end of July, outperforming all other regions. The summer months generated a slight increase in the number of guest reviews in most of the global regions, signifying a higher occupancy rate and the pickup of seasonal travel. Even so, caution continued to be the “word of the day” in hospitality and by the end of August, our THI registered a significant decline in the week-over-week review trend, mainly due to the second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Europe first took the lead in the market recovery

In the midst of constant change and unpredictability, it was clear that different regions followed a significantly different trajectory in terms of recovery. The first months of the pandemic had a staggering effect, with different markets going into lockdown at different times. Initial recovery shows a similar trend, with clear gaps between market recovery and decline. This regional gap registered by the THI reached its peak at the end of July when Europe was far ahead in the race. In contrast, South America was registering the lowest volume of guest reviews and therefore, the smallest occupancy rate. The regional gap back then was made of 46 points, with 58 in Europe and only 12 in South America, these scores resulting from benchmarking the current review volume with the normal levels registered in 2019.

Now, the gap is closing and we have reached a point in time when all the global regions are lingering at the same level of recovery, with a very similar THI score. While Europe has retracted again, some other markets have been able to catch up in terms of recovery. The biggest gap is now between Europe (46 points) and Africa (36 points). 

But what does this mean for hospitality and travel?

As depicted in the graphic above, all the regions are moving towards a similar position and the trajectory of the best-performing ones is currently following a downward trend, while the worst-performing ones are picking up the pace. Africa and South America in particular are showing positive signs in terms of recovery, with the summer season kicking off in the Southern Hemisphere and the virus most likely laying low for a few months of sunshine. The takeaway here is that there is no longer a clear leading region in the recovery race, as the spread between the global and regional THI continues to diminish. 

From now on, any region can prove to lead the race

The slowdown of the overall travel sector and the downward movements that we are witnessing are not completely unexpected. The course of the industry is heavily reliant on the progression of the pandemic and every up and down is clearly reflected in hotel occupancy rates and guest review data. While the closing gap between regions reflects the impact of the pandemic on the global level, it is also resetting the score in the race towards recovery, bringing all regions back to the same point – which is, on a positive note, no longer point 0. Once again, the upcoming trajectory of the industry is hard to predict or anticipate.

Given the changes that are happening at a rapid and unpredictable pace, it’s important for hoteliers and hospitality professionals to keep a close eye on the global and regional trends in terms of guest reviews, in order to understand where the industry stands and where it’s headed; especially now that the race will start once more from the same position for all regions. 

A roundup of resources to strengthen your endurance

Make sure to check the Travel Health Index for ongoing, weekly updates that show the real progress of each region, as well as individual countries.

If you are looking for more information and insightful advice on how to push through the crisis and prepare for recovery, check out our COVID-19 resource library. Better yet, you can join our exclusive Recovery Race, to have access to free content, resources, expert advice, videos, and everything in between.