COVID-19: Identifying origin markets of visitors to hotels still operating during the pandemic

How can mobile location data be used to identify origin markets of hotel guests and inform marketing and recovery efforts post-COVID-19? 

Background

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, most tourist spots remain closed. As a result, visitation to “tourist locations” such as parks and beaches has decreased significantly. There are, however, a handful of visitors still visiting these locations: locals. Perhaps these locals are taking advantage of the lack of tourists, getting some exercise, or merely getting some air and sunshine after spending nearly a month at home. 

While one would assume that these “local tourists” would stay at home (vs. staying at a hotel), some hotels are still seeing almost 25% occupancy rates. Who are these guests? Where are they coming from? How has visitation to hotels changed before and after COVID-19?

Analysis

Five star getaways are still seeing some guests

We analyzed a sample of national hotel chains, including the Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria, and Ritz-Carlton. Before the National State of Emergency was declared, visitation was steady. After the declaration, traffic has decreased significantly. There is, however, a small percentage of guests still visiting these properties. 

After COVID-19, more guests are locals 

By analyzing how far guests travel to arrive at the hotel, we can obtain better insight into whether they are “local tourists,” short haul travelers, or international guests. After COVID-19, we see almost a 16% increase in guests that travel 100 miles or less to arrive at the location. There is a significant drop in long haul and international guests (about 14%). 

Median income of post-COVID-19 guests is 11.2% lower than pre-COVID-19

The median income of hotel guests has dropped 11.2% since the declaration of a national state of emergency in March. 

Origin markets of guests shift local

Prior to COVID-19, the origin market was a mix of major metro areas, including New York City. Now, hotel guests are primarily from nearby markets within reasonable driving distance. 

Conclusion

By evaluating changes in origin markets due to COVID-19, destinations can recalibrate their marketing efforts to better reach this new clientele with evolving consumer preferences.