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The UK leads the way in Hotel Occupancy, a key driver of Conference and Meeting room hire rates. July 2021.

2 Aug 20212m read

Figures produced by specialist STR show the UK leading the European table in terms of Hotel bedroom occupancy though still way below pre-pandemic levels. Traditionally hotels control some 60% of the UK conference market, see HERE. When they are busy conference delegate rates and room hire rates are strong and visa versa.

Before we look at forward data for the remainder of the summer, let’s add some historical context as our starting point.

Europe Hotel Occupancy Timeline

Some European markets have been more successful than others in pulling themselves up from pandemic low points despite a massive void in international arrivals.

Overall, Europe has quite a way to go before the region is back to pre-pandemic levels. The region’s occupancy came in at 31.6% for May. That was up from May 2020 (13.7%) but substantially below May 2019 (74.8%). Because of the pandemic impact on 2020 data, STR is using 2019 as the recovery benchmark.

At the country level, the aforementioned U.K. posted the highest May occupancy (43.1%), but even that level was far off the 2019 comparable (78.9%). Spain (33.8%) ranked second in May occupancy, which as noted in this previous article, thanks to limited domestic demand. France (33.1%) was third in occupancy during May.

On the other side of the spectrum, Germany (17.3%) was the lowest occupancy performer in Europe due to stricter restrictions.

As illustrated in the following charts, few of Europe’s key hotel markets are separating themselves from the rest of the pack when it comes to occupancy recovery.

conference room hire rates 2021

Looking ahead, the countries that have made more vaccination progress, and/or provide more certainty around restrictions, will see better domestic demand as well as some demand from other European countries.

Occupancy on the books remains low across Europe, but the U.K. and Spain are still ahead of the pack. Even still, Spain occupancy on the books remains below 40% for the next 90 days. The country shows a peak on 10 July with occupancy on the books at 38.0%. As we noted in a previous article, it is important to remember that the pandemic has shifted guest tendency toward shorter booking windows. That leaves plenty of opportunity for improvement around further reopening and easing of restrictions, provided travelers are clear and confident on the process. Conversely, increased cancellations are also possible if pandemic situations worsen.

Business on the books in the Netherlands is different with spikes not coming until early September, due to the rescheduled F1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix (3-5 September). Occupancy on the books in the country sat as high as 24.1% and 26.5% on 3-4 September (Friday and Saturday), respectively. Looking forward to late September, the Netherlands’ occupancy on the books is below 15%.

Belgium occupancy on the books remained below 10% for the next 90 days with weekend peaks (but levels below 15%).

In conclusion, as we know the pandemic has been an existential threat to the European conference sector. This in turn has resulted in different hotels and venues reacting in unpredictable and variable ways when it comes to pricing. Never has the added value that a venue booking agency can bring been more apparent. We are talking to hotels and venues all day every day, we can and will save you money, see HERE for details.

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