During a webinar on 26 March, STR’s Robin Rossmann, Aoife Roche and Samantha Mardkhah provided the latest data and insights into the impact of Covid-19 on hotel performance in key markets around Europe.

Rossmann began by assessing the wider impact of the pandemic, revealing that some 41,305 hotels had closed in the EMEA region to date according to STR tracking – how long they remain closed will depend on how long the virus persists. As a consequence, occupancy levels have declined significantly across the continent, with figures of below -90% in the likes of Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic when compared to last year.

With Europe’s occupancy, ADR and RevPAR hit severely in the last 28 days and worsening further in the past week – the latter down by more than 95% since 16 March in key cities such as Prague, Paris and Barcelona – forward occupancy has unsurprisingly collapsed too for the next 14 days and beyond, with cancellations also coming through stronger than ever as travellers are encouraged to stay at home.

Looking more specifically at the UK and Ireland, Roche highlighted that London and Dublin lead the way in terms of declines, both recording a -80% occupancy drop on last year between 16-22 March. Forward bookings have also taken a hit for the UK markets, while pickup for the next three months is set to fall as low as -40% in the British capital along with key destinations such as Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham.

In Germany meanwhile, RevPAR continues to decrease as more Covid-19 cases are confirmed, with fair cities suffering the most in terms of occupancy changes. The same bleak picture can be seen throughout Central & Eastern Europe, with Budapest recording an occupancy change of -93% on last year’s figure, while in France, RevPAR has plummeted by over 80% vs 2019 after cases began to soar in the middle of March.

Touching on the Benelux, Mardkhah noted that occupancy had dropped below 10% in the days prior to the Belgian lockdown, with RevPAR following suit as more hotels closed. Maastricht, Eindhoven and Brussels were said to be experiencing the biggest declines in RevPAR, while the postponement of Eurovision was highly visible in Rotterdam when looking at pickup in the next three months, despite forward occupancy showing more promise towards the summer. Finally in the Nordic capitals, the impact was felt most on 1 March when occupancy levels tailed off drastically, though ADR has maintained some stability since.

According to an STR survey, the appetite for leisure travel is also lower than last year as things stand, posing the question as to whether this pandemic will have a long term effect on travel behaviours, though things could quickly change as restrictions are lifted and markets show signs of bouncing back – as seen in China, where 87% of hotels are now back open after a two-month lockdown period that has recently been eased.

In closing, Rossmann stated that while most economists are expecting another global recession – Capital Economics believe that the fall in GDP in Q2 2020, likely an under-estimate, will be 15% – now is the time to look after each other and remember that this is about lives, not numbers: “In the words of Gandalf, ‘It is not for us to decide the times we live in. All that we have to decide is what to do with the time we are given’.”

Additional webinars will now be held each week as STR monitors performance data in all world regions.

Words: Ben Thomas