Omicron Hit Booking Volume Hardest, Says TripBam Report
Company expects business travel to reach 70% of 2019 levels by third quarter >>
by: Harvey Chipkin
The biggest story of Omicron’s impact has been on booking volumes, according to a Market Snapshot Report from TripBam, the hotel shopping and analytics provider. Pre-Omicron, new booking volumes for the US were down 50% from 2019 but trending higher. Post-Omicron, US volumes are down 70%. While Omicron has impacted business travel volumes, TripBam still expects to reach 70% of 2019 volumes by the third quarter of this year — a slight change from the previous prediction of 70% by the second quarter. TripBam anticipates volumes will continue to rebound and hit a ceiling of 80% of 2019 levels by the end of 2023. In the long term, the company foresees that budget cuts, remote work and meeting technologies, and concerns about environmental impacts will suppress further growth in business travel. Despite the reduced volumes, hotel rates are likely to reach 2019 levels by the second quarter of this year and are likely to surpass 2019 rates in the second half of the year, owing to a continued imbalance of supply growth and demand growth combined with increased hotel operating costs. In the Americas, according to the report, buyers have a strong opportunity during the first quarter to negotiate favorable discounts for 2023, but the window is closing. A new Business Travel Index from TripBam combines rate and volume into a single number to measure the health of the market. The BT Index is based on the high point of 2019 for volume and rate, using a 100-point scale. The global BT Index is currently at 21.36 (or 21.36% of the peak in 2019) and has been trending upward, indicating market health is improving . The regional indices show a strong recovery for Asia-Pacific, North America and Latin America, all rebounding at similar rates to one another. However, the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region is trailing behind. This is attributable to the lower booking volumes in EMEA compared with the rest of the world.