assessment and outlook for the hotel industry in France

At the time of doing the accounts for 2020, the firm Verbatim drew up, during its annual conference, an obviously very dark assessment for the French hotel industry. The revenue per room (RevPAR), a benchmark for the profession, has suffered a decline of 55% compared to 2019, this figure summarizing both open and closed hotels. Unsurprisingly, their occupancy level, suspended from confinement rules and travel restrictions, reached an all-time low, just 32% for the whole year. Abyssal … ” The pandemic has generated a crisis incomparable to those already experienced by players in the sector, the consequences of which seem, in retrospect, derisory in the face of the current crisis“, Notes the consulting firm.

The hotel industry in large French metropolises, which are more dependent on business customers and MICE events, was naturally very affected. The Parisian hotel industry, for example, has a RevPAR down by 74% over the year and the Côte d’Azur a decrease of -65%, the absence of international tourists being partly offset by the domestic leisure clientele. In this context, carried by a good summer season on the coasts, the hotels in the regions saw their RevPAR decline “only” by 47%, despite the difficulties experienced in their large urban areas.

Regions that perform better than large cities and a more resilient budget hotel industry than the upscale and luxury categories: these two trends are identical throughout Europe, and even more markedly than in France. According to the firm STR, the European hotel industry shows a fall of 72% of its turnover, while global RevPAR has declined by 50% on average. Taking into account all open and closed hotels, attendance at European hotels rose to barely 25% in 2020. This level is appreciably similar to that observed in Africa or South America, but is declining compared to China (44%), the United States (40%) or the Middle East (39%).

However, if signs of recovery are already visible in some parts of the world, with occupancy rates exceeding 50% in Dubai, Beijing and Singapore, the European hotel industry is still lagging behind. ” The year 2021 did not start as planned with hotels still very uncrowded, notes Aoife Roche, Hotels sales director at STR. The next 90 days will be difficult in all major cities in Europe. But there is hope in the longer term, especially from the fourth quarter. Patience is a virtue. »According to STR, the frequentation of hotels in the world – excluding China – should be down at the end of the year by only 10 to 15 points compared to 2019. In the end, the firm nevertheless expects a decline in Global RevPAR between 50% and 60% compared to 2019.

In its analysis, the firm In Extenso notes that in France, “ six out of ten hoteliers estimate a possible return to normal after more than a year. The majority of closed hotels – about a quarter of hotels in the park in December – still don’t know when they will reopen. “In this context, the resumption of tourism in France is strongly conditioned by” the resumption of air traffic and the return of international customers and MICE. The event calendar could resume in the second half of the year, at the end of the state of health emergency, as evidenced by the announcement of the postponement of the Cannes film festival to July.

With almost zero activity for conferences and major events, at least at the start of the year, and always fluctuating business demand, the best will come primarily from domestic leisure tourism. In this context, Caroline Leboucher, CEO of Atout France, underlined during the annual conference of In Extenso that “ building customer loyalty and attracting new ones, sometimes local ones, will be major challenges for hoteliers in the recovery. Hence the need for professionals to arouse the curiosity of customers, inform them and make them want to come back, in particular by developing their digital presence and by thinking of hotels as a place of life where local culture and a sense of travel coexist. .

The crisis will mean that the sector will be more digital, more responsible, but also more efficient“, Estimates Béatrice Guedj, Head of Research and Innovation of Swiss Life Asset Managers France who considers that“ despite the brutality of the short-term shock, the hotel industry remains attractive to long-term investors. The recovery will be there from 2023, this horizon is now commonly accepted.

“The crisis will have lasting impacts on the profession“, Also thinks Philippe Gauguier, partner of In Extenso TCH, citing several elements that will play a role in the future: teleworking, the use of digital, customer expectations in terms of sustainable development, an increased appetite for destinations national, but also, and what is positive, this desire to consume the hotel and restaurant industry which could be observed at the end of the first confinement. ” We have also seen the emergence of words like “staycation”, like “workation” which show a change in expectations regarding the hotel offer.” , he added.

Guest of the conference, Satya Anand, EMEA President of Marriott International, pointed out that every period of turmoil has a positive side and that of the covid does not change the rule. We had to improve our health protocols to provide a safer environment for our employees and travelers. We had to accelerate the development of our digital experiences offer. A lot of things will remain.

Several professionals invited to participate in the conference also exchanged views. ” Today we have reopened the kitchens so that our customers eat as well as in the restaurant, underlined Frédéric Josenhans, CEO of Grape Hospitality Group & France Hostels. Before, catering was sometimes limited to a few jars. There was no click & collect. Only those who have succeeded in this transformation will resist in the post-crisis period. The others will be eaten by Airbnb.

In this context, one type of hotel has shown itself to be more resilient than others in recent times: the lifestyle. ” Take one of our hotels, the Mama Shelter Toulouse: it did a lot of take-away during the period and at the same time attracted more residents thanks to its more attractive room service, remarked Pierre Mattei, CEO of Keys REIM. The change is accelerating with hotels and very strong on the F&B part. “Jean-Baptiste Martin, CEO of Suitcase Hospitality, also notes that before,” hotel catering was not always very glamorous. There, new entrants came to usreverse it all with sound, light, local products. Restaurants and bars will be essential tomorrow. Thanks to this, business travelers don’t have the feeling of being in a hotel-office and may want to stay longer because they are having a good time.. “

Janelle B. Smith

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