Hotels Account for Half of Tourism Bookings in 2006 - Report
The online marketing of Ireland's accommodation sector needs to focus on the 'tourism experience' and not the premises, according to Dr Stewart Stephens, Managing Director, Gulliver Ireland, which is part of FEXCO AllTravel. He was speaking today (Friday, 2nd March 2007) at the launch of Gulliver's 'Irish Hotel Sector Review 2006' in advance of the 2007 Irish Hotels Federation Annual Conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Cavan.
"Ireland's accommodation product is now second to none; the challenge is to differentiate that product. For years, we have championed the need for quality online information. Now we have it and it reflects the tourism product on the ground. However, the Internet is evolving as quickly as ever where one photo of a bedroom is the same as another. We must make sure that the positive changes to Irish life of the past few years do not have a negative effect on the 'tourism experience'. The customer is taking over as never before and giving us information as never before. We have to listen to them," said Dr Stephens.
The Gulliver 'Irish Hotel Sector Review 2006' found that almost half of all tourism bookings were made with hotels in 2006, a similar figure to the previous year. Online bookings continue to grow strongly, reflecting the continuing shift in consumer behaviour, according to Gulliver.
Gulliver Irish Hotel Sector Review 2006 - Highlights
- Hotel bookings represent almost half (47 per cent) of total Gulliver bookings.
- Online bookings accounted for almost 70 per cent of total hotel bookings - up from 63 per cent in 2005.
- Online hotel bookings grew by 14 per cent on 2005.
- GoIreland.com's hotel bookings jumped by an impressive 34 per cent on 2005.
- The average online price per night paid for hotel rooms was €58.42.
- The average length of stay (number of hotel bednights booked online) was almost four nights.
- All hotel grades experienced price increases in their respective average price per night
- Regionally, hotels outside the capital experienced strong online booking growth through GoIreland.com, particularly in Carlow, Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Laois, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.
Irish holidaymakers booking hotels in 2006 grew by 25 per cent on 2005.
- Dublin had a 51 per cent share of hotel bookings followed by the West (13 per cent) and the South West (12 per cent).
- All hotel grades except for five-star hotels experienced booking growth.
- The B&B sector was the other accommodation sector to significantly benefit with a 33 per cent share of total tourism bookings.
Overall Hotel Booking Market
The hotel sector captured 47 per cent of all Gulliver tourism bookings for 2006. Over 68,000 hotel bookings were made, valued at €14.1 million and representing almost 245,000 bednights. Bookings were made through three sales channels, the Gulliver Call Centre, Tourist Information Offices (TIOs) and the Internet.
Online Hotel Booking Market - Impressive Growth
Online hotel sector bookings continued their impressive growth with an increase of 14 per cent on 2005 and 108 per cent on 2004. This represented bookings valued at almost €9.9 million. GoIreland.com, Gulliver's busiest website in 2006, generated bookings equating to over 88,000 bednights and worth more than €5.1 million - a rise of 41 per cent on the value of bookings made in 2005. The website's average hotel booking value was €205 in 2006, a five per cent increase on the 2005 period.
The average online price per night paid by tourists and visitors for hotel rooms was €58.42, a healthy seven per cent increase on 2005. Rates grew across all grades, and the increase comes after several years of real price decreases across the sector. Prices ranged from the two-star grade average of €46.42 to €85.87 for the five-star average. The average number of nights booked online was just under four.
Source of Hotel Customers
Domestic holidaymakers making hotel bookings grew by 25 per cent on 2005. They were followed by visitors from the UK, US, Australia and Germany as the top five booking nationalities. Gulliver noted that there was an improvement in the level of US visitors and growth was particularly noticeable from France, South Africa, Spain and Sweden compared with 2005 figures.
Regional Hotel Bookings Growth
Dublin was the strongest performer for hotel bookings in 2006 but the period was characterised by regional growth across the hotel sector. Dublin's 51 per cent market share was followed by the West and South West regions (13 and 12 per cent respectively), Shannon and the South East (both seven per cent), and the North West and Midlands East (both at four per cent). The regions which enjoyed the most growth last year were the Midlands East (53 per cent), the North West (49 per cent) and South East (24 per cent) regions.
The company was particularly pleased with the continued growth in regional hotel bookings through GoIreland.com. Against a background of growth in overall bookings, in 2006 54 per cent of hotel bookings through the website were for outside Dublin, compared with just 41 per cent in 2002.
On a county-by-county basis, the top 10 counties for online hotel bookings were, in descending order, Dublin, Galway, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Mayo, Kilkenny and Wexford. Growth in hotel bookings compared with 2005 was particularly evident in Carlow, Cavan, Laois, Louth, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo, Tipperary, Westmeath and Wexford.
Dublin versus non-Dublin Hotel Price Comparison
The average value of each online booking in Dublin hotels was €203.46. Tourists and visitors spent an average of 3.64 nights per booking at an average price of €55.88 per night, an increase seven per cent on the 2005 figure. By comparison, for non-Dublin hotels, the average value of each booking was €223.35 with guests spending an average of 3.69 bednights in a non-Dublin hotel or €60.51 per night.