Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

Last-minute domestic travellers play vital role in support of Thai tourism industry

Wat Chalong at Phuket Town, the most popular temple on the island

New data from SiteMinder, the global hotel industry’s leading guest acquisition platform, reveals a fast-growing shift toward last-minute travel among local holidaymakers in light of the uncertainty created by COVID-19.

SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index, the leading indicator of hotel reservation and guest arrival trends around the world, shows that of all bookings made at Thai hotels in the last two weeks, just under 37 percent are for stays during the month of August and over 37 percent are for September. Less than 20 percent of all bookings made at Thai hotels to date are for stays next year.

The findings mirror those found in SiteMinder’s recent Changing Traveller Report, which surveyed nearly 600 residents and found that 59 percent would make their accommodation reservation less than a month before commencing their trip. The survey, conducted in July, also found that close to two-in-three Thais were already planning their next local trip and 74 percent intended to travel within the country before the end of the year.

“The rapid pace of change this year has presented hoteliers with the challenges of short-term planning and spontaneous or otherwise last-minute buying behaviour among their guests. The paths to purchase are now much shorter and it is important hoteliers adapt by ensuring they are bookable through a variety of sales channels, particularly on mobile and social media where consumers are spending more time than ever before,” says SiteMinder’s regional vice president of Asia Pacific, Bradley Haines.

“The ongoing crisis has instilled in many people a newfound appreciation for what their country has to offer, and that is clear here in Thailand. Residents are showing their openness to travelling locally through this period, which is allowing for local confidence to be built incrementally as life continues to normalise. The growing trend is critical to all local operators that have reopened.”

Local residents now constitute just over 95 percent of the country’s hotel guests, according to the World Hotel Index, which is a stark contrast to the 29 percent seen in August last year. Thailand’s hotel bookings currently sit at 40.6 percent of 2019 volumes to represent a growth of 587 percent since dropping to 5.91 percent YoY —their lowest level in recent history — on  12 April.

Solo tourist exploring the many temples and buildings of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, in Ayutthaya