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Strong domestic market for hotels in Ireland persists

Domestic tourists continued to be the largest source of hotel bookers last year. They were double the number of UK visitor hotel bookings and were four times higher than US visitor bookings, according to the newly-published Gulliver Ireland Hotel Sector Review 2008. The Review was launched on Monday, 3rd March 2008 to coincide with…

Domestic tourists continued to be the largest source of hotel bookers last year. They were double the number of UK visitor hotel bookings and were four times higher than US visitor bookings, according to the newly-published Gulliver Ireland Hotel Sector Review 2008. The Review was launched on Monday, 3rd March 2008 to coincide with the 2008 Irish Hotel Federation Annual Conference.

The Review revealed that hotel bookings performed well through Gulliver Ireland last year, where online hotel bookings grew by nearly 10 per cent.

The highlights of the Gulliver Ireland Hotel Sector Review 2008 were:

  • 71 per cent of all Gulliver hotel bookings were made online last year, an eight per cent rise on 2006
  • The value of online hotel bookings increased by 10 per cent
  • GoIreland.com grew its bookings value and bednights sold by six per cent
  • Dublin secured almost half (49 per cent) of hotel bookings across all sales channels
  • Hotel bookings to the North grew by an impressive 50 per cent while the North West, Midlands East and the South West regions were the next most improved regions
  • Hotels outside the capital recorded strong online booking growth through GoIreland.com, particularly in areas such as Laois, Meath, Monaghan, Kildare, Carlow, Sligo, Louth, Donegal, Clare, Cork and Westmeath
  • Domestic tourists accounted for 44 per cent of all hotel bookings, double UK visitor bookings and four times those of US visitors
  • The average online price per night per person sharing was Euro 59.25
  • The average length of stay (number of hotel bednights booked online) was 1.67

Almost 70,000 hotel bookings were made through Gulliver in 2007, which were valued at Euro 14.8 million, up five per cent, and represented over 251,000 bednights.

Online hotel booking increases continued last year where their overall value jumped by 10 per cent to Euro 10.9 million. The average online booking value increased from Euro 214 to Euro 219 in 2007. Gulliver noted that this two per cent increase was small compared with inflation last year. GoIreland.com, Gulliver’s flagship website, mirrored overall online hotel growth by recording a six per cent increase in both booking value and the number of bednights sold.

The average online price per night per person sharing paid by tourists and visitors for hotel rooms was Euro 59.25, up from the 2006 average of Euro 58.42. Again, this increase was significantly less than 2007 inflation and demonstrates that hotels still offer value despite the ‘rip off republic’ moniker attributed to Ireland.

Domestic holidaymakers made by far the most hotel bookings across all sales channels. They outnumbered the next biggest source of all hotel bookings, UK visitors with a 22 per cent share, by two to one while US visitors accounted for 11 per cent of hotel bookings. Interestingly, hotel bookings by UK visitors grew by eight per cent, which was higher than domestic tourist booking growth of five per cent. The next most popular hotel bookers were visitors from Australia, which grew by 16 per cent, Germany and Italy.

Dublin retained its leadership position as the region securing the most hotel bookings in 2007, with a 48 per cent share, which was down three per cent. The South West, West, Shannon and South East were the next most popular regions with hotel bookers.

The most improved performances online were by the North West, Midlands East, Shannon and South West, which grew their online hotel bookings by 32 per cent, 24 per cent, 22 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. GoIreland.com bookings growth in these four regions reflected this trend.  Bookings through the website for hotels outside of Dublin reached a five-year high of 59 per cent of all hotel bookings.

The top 10 counties for online hotel bookings were, in descending order, Dublin, Galway, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny, Mayo and Sligo.

Comparing online prices for Dublin hotels against non-Dublin hotels, the Gulliver Ireland Hotel Sector Review 2008 found that the average value of each online booking in Dublin hotels was Euro 209.47 while that of non-Dublin hotels was higher at Euro 227.12. Tourists and visitors spent an average of 1.66 nights per booking at an average price of Euro 57.40 per night per person sharing in Dublin.  For non-Dublin hotels, guests spent an average of 1.63 nights and an average of Euro 60.67 per night per person sharing.

Speaking at the launch of the Gulliver Ireland Hotel Sector Review 2008, Dr Stewart Stephens, Managing Director of Gulliver Ireland, said, "A recent survey by Holiday Inn of 5,000 UK holidaymakers showed that holidaymakers today no longer take one long holiday each year. Instead it seems that a few shorter breaks are the preference. This pattern is reflected in Gulliver hotel bookings in Ireland, where the average length of hotel stays has decreased from 2.10 in 2002 compared to 1.67 in 2007.

"The ubiquity of the Internet for tourists and visitors making hotel bookings is now widely appreciated. However, hotels must work harder and better to contextualise their tourism offering online so that tourists and visitors clearly understand what is offered, why its better than its competitors and enjoy the experience enough to refer and return," added Dr Stephens.

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