A new report by software platform SiteMinder shows that the UK hotel industry is entering a new era of travel following a rise in international arrivals throughout 2023.

Based on more than 115m hotel bookings, the report reveals that hotel check-ins from international guests grew by 17% in 2023 to 52% of stays year-on-year.

This aligns with global trends, which saw international check-ins rise by an average of 33% from the previous year.

The top travel source markets for British hotels were the US, Germany, France, Australia and Italy.

Higher prices, longer average lead times, ongoing short stays

In spite of increased prices, the average daily rate (ADR) for UK hotels in 2023 jumped 8% from 2022 to £193.

The rise in international arrivals saw travellers book their stays sooner, with the average lead time growing 7% versus 2022, to 41 days – more than four days longer than in 2019.

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By GlobalData

ADR unsurprisingly peaked during the summer holidays, averaging £213 in June 2023, while Friday stays were the most lucrative, with an ADR of £219, followed by those on Saturday (£204) and Thursday (£197). January was again the cheapest month for guests, with an ADR of £155.

Short stays, due in part to London being a haven for business travel, were again a driver of the vast majority of arrivals, with UK hotels hosting among the shortest stays in the world. Eighty-six percent were for 1-2 nights, compared to the global average of 81%, while 96% were for 1-4 nights.

Hoteliers must remain dynamic as travellers change habits

SiteMinder’s vice president of ecosystem and strategic partnerships, James Bishop, says the findings are encouraging for UK hoteliers, but they shouldn’t expect a return to the old normal at a time of industry-wide change.

“While international travel is returning strongly and traveller demographics are normalising, today’s guests are a strong departure from those hoteliers once knew. Increasingly, travellers have a nuanced approach to spending.

“Travellers are experience-driven and prepared to purchase extras beyond the cost of their room, but are more often turning to packages and promotions that allow them to continue travelling the way they know and love.”