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How major events and natural disasters impact travel trends and hotel bookings

28 September 2018 (Edited 07 October 2018)

Travel metasearch provider Koddi has released a new report entitles Travel Index: Event Trends 2018 which analyzes the impacts of major sporting and pop-culture events and natural disasters on global travel trends during the period CY 2016 through 1H2018.

Sporting Events

Conclusions are drawn from a study of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the Moscow FIFA World Cup and the Minneapolis Super Bowl.


  • Impact on travel varies drastically according to the desirability of the hosting city as a tourist destination.
    • The 2018 World Cup attracted more than 3M spectators to Moscow, and increased June and July hotel bookings by 300% - in part a result of the city's steadily increasing international tourist base.
    • Minneapolis, which has been growing in popularity as a tourist destination - a record 33M visitors in 2017 - saw 125,000 visitors from 130 countries during the Super Bowl.
    • But the PyeongChang Winter Olympics struggled to draw attendees, and hotel bookings during the event were down by double-digit percentages from the previous year. And Oakland, CA which hosted the 2017 and 2018 NBA finals saw decreased bookings during these events.
  • The relationship between ticketing schedules and booking windows is also important.
    • World Cup tickets were first available 90 days before the event, and the booking window also averaged 90 days - but the biggest spike in bookings occurred only 7 days before the event.
    • Proximity matters: the 2016 Cleveland World Series had a very short average booking window of 12 days, largely because Cleveland is only a few hours away for Chicago fans.
  • Marketing implications
    • For any destination, look at where attendees historically have come from. Expect longer booking windows for international visitors, shorter for domestic.
    • Focus on driving shorter booking windows - 0 to 7 days before the event.
    • Because booking demand will plummet the day after an event, stop marketing to avoid wasted investment.

Pop-culture events

Conclusions are drawn from a study of several annually recurring music festivals and political rallies.


  • Impulsive booking plays a key part.
    • For all but one international and domestic music festival studied, average booking window was 4-6 weeks despite tickets going on sale months before the event.
    • Most attendees at political rallies began booking their itineraries only 2-3 weeks before event start.
  • Increased booking competition is a factor.
    • Increase in hotel bookings is negligible for most cities hosting pop culture events - perhaps in part because these cities are already popular tourist destinations.
    • Short-term rentals may be taking business from festival attendees away from hotels.
  • Marketing implications:
    • Invest in mobile campaigns during the week preceding the event.
    • Ticket demand for 1-day events increases drastically between 2 days prior and the actual day of the event, then of course plummets. Market heavily during those 2-3 days, than stop.
    • Because attendees at festivals tend to be money-conscious, economy/budget accommodations will do better.

Natural disasters

Conclusions are drawn from a study of tropical storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions impacting Texas, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Indonesia.


  • Severity of effect of natural disasters depends on geography.
    • Destinations heavily dependent on tourism like Puerto Rico and Indonesia tend to see significant drops in hotel bookings during natural disasters.
    • Hotel bookings at other destinations - like Houston and Hawaii - are little affected. [Why? -DB]
  • Marketing implications
    • Hotels can build rapport by offering free rooms to displaced families, discounting rooms for emergency responders and waiving cancellation fees.
    • If you have to close, cut back on advertising.


Koddi's analysis of sporting and pop-culture events seems sound, and with useful recommendations. But that for natural disasters seems a little thin. Why were travel trends and hotel bookings for Hawaii so much less impacted by Hurricane Lane and the Kilauea eruptions, compared to disaster impacts on Puerto Rico and Bali? Must not the extent of the damage to tourist areas - and not just the dependence of the region on tourism - have had something to do with this? I think Koddi (or somebody) needs to look further into this - like examine correlations with bookings of some variables related to extent of damage.

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And if you have questions or comments, you can easily send them to me with the Quick Reply form, below, or send me an e-mail.

David Boggs    - David
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