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UK hotels see cancellations surge as Brits jet off abroad

Written by: Emma Lunn
Hotels around the UK are seeing cancellation rates of more than 50% as holidaymakers race abroad after this week’s changes to the traffic light system.

Data from hotel technology provider Avvio shows cancellation rates have increased from as low as 4% earlier this year to 50%.

The majority of cancellations are coming from couples, who are up to six times more likely to cancel as families. In city centre hotels 8.6% of cancellations are by families and 57.4% by couples. In resort hotels, 32% of cancellations are by families and 44% by couples.

Earlier this year Avvio warned that holidaymakers were hedging their bets this summer by booking multiple hotel stays with a view to cancelling unwanted trips when they see how the international travel situation plays out.

Many UK hotels have been forced to offer fully flexible cancellations this year to attract bookings. The majority of accommodation providers allow guests to cancel penalty-free with just a day or two’s notice.

Now that international travel in gradually becoming easier, with most people vaccinated and more countries added to the green list, Avvio’s predictions appear to be coming true.

Michael De Jongh, Avvio’s chief commercial officer, said: “Guests are cancelling their bookings at the last minute and going abroad instead. Some hotels are seeing cancellation rates of 50% or more.

“If these cancellations are in resort hotels the rooms are often quickly filled again, as there’s a queue of families desperate to have a resort staycation. But cancellations are hitting the city centre hotels hard. Many were at just 30% occupancy before foreign travel opened up again. It’s a nightmare for them as most of these bookings will never be filled.

“Come September there’ll be no families to fill the resort hotel bookings. If cancellation rates remain the same, it will be a disastrous autumn for both resort and city centre hotels. I’d urge everyone to think very carefully before they cancel their UK hotel.

“If they do have to cancel for any reason, I’d encourage them to give the hotel as much notice as possible or, better still, move the booking to an alternative date. If they cancel just before they were supposed to check in, even if it’s within the incredibly flexible Covid-related terms, then it’s possible the hotel will lose that revenue altogether as the room now won’t be booked at all.”

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