As aoûtiens enter the second week of their holidays, a new study from SiteMinder, the world’s largest open hotel commerce platform, provides insight into the extent that French citizens are now re-embracing travel after a period of disruption.
SiteMinder’s Changing Traveller Report 2021: France Edition, based on the survey responses of more than 900 holidaymakers, has found that over 3-in-4 locals hope to travel either the same amount (43%) or more (33%) than prior to Covid in the coming year.
Only 6.5% of the French travelling population plans to travel much less. Significantly, only 2.35% claim they will never travel again following the pandemic, which is down from almost 8% in SiteMinder’s 2020 survey.
The data follows the growing trend of summer travellers taking to the road in large numbers. The grown desire to travel, however, is surpassed only by traveller expectations on accommodation providers, according to SiteMinder’s study. Nearly all respondents (95%) say they now expect either higher (43%) or the same (53%) accommodation standards compared to pre-pandemic times, while less than 5% currently have lower or much lower standards.
For SiteMinder, the findings illustrate both the speed at which locals are now re-engaging with travel—often at very short notice—and the growing pressures that accommodation providers are now under to meet the heightened standards of their guests.
“What we see in this fresh data is evidence of the ‘revenge travel’ many expected would boom this summer across France – which involves the urge to make up for lost time and compensate for trips missed,” says Antoine Aubrun, Country Manager of France at SiteMinder. “While this is pleasing news for our hotels, the last-minute nature of the travel taking place, as well as the changed attitudes of the local holidaymakers, highlights often unseen pressures that French operators are currently under.”
“Bookings are often being made just days before a trip commences, which, combined with the importance displayed in our survey of having an easily cancellable stay, means hoteliers are often left with both an uncertain calendar, and very limited preparation time,” adds Aubrun. “When they do arrive, the expectations of guests are now higher across the board, too. One example of this is the increased desire to have an experience that is contactless. In 2020, this was the top priority for less than 1% of the travelling population we surveyed, while this year it is the top priority of more than seven times that number. Beyond hygiene and convenience, expectations around a stay being memorable and personalised have risen sharply as well.”
Meeting the demands of the new French traveller
Positively for the French accommodation providers accommodating these guests, SiteMinder’s report points to the many travellers who support their personal data being used to better their stay. Almost 80% of French locals (79.48%) are not opposed to their personal data being used to improve their visit, which SiteMinder says provides a tangible example of something hoteliers can leverage to meet the new standards expected of them.
“To keep pace and ensure that they are maintaining a solid reputation, hoteliers must be on the lookout for ways to elevate their offering, and using smart technology that can provide guest insights, and help ease their workload, is no longer negotiable,” says Aubrun. “Travel looks different, and businesses that are leaning into technology to streamline their operations, reacting fastest to last-minute bookers, and gaining a deeper understanding of their guests via data, are ultimately setting themselves up for greater success.”
The findings from SiteMinder’s survey affirm the information contained in the company’s World Hotel Index, which shows that the booking momentum to French hotels in recent weeks has hit a new high for the first time since March 2020. Over 70% of bookings made in the last 14 days were for stays in August, according to the data, and approximately 60% of stays for the remainder of the month are from the country’s own people.
SiteMinder’s French survey is also largely consistent with findings in Spain and Germany, where 70% and 58% of travellers respectively see themselves travelling either the same amount or more than prior to Covid in the coming year, and 98% and 95% now have the same or higher expectations of accommodation standards.