Where to stay in Europe? Look to the middle class and online reviews: Travel Weekly Asia

Asia Pacific will play a big part in tourism’s future growth, as the emerging economies in Asia continue to be the biggest contributors to the growing global middle class.

By 2030, two in three members of the middle class will be Asian, while the shares of European and American middle classes will decrease. China, India and Indonesia are the leading countries that will drive this rapid growth.

A chart-rich report produced by Statista and Booking.com finds the rapidly growing global middle class is an important demand driver for European destinations.

Between 2020 and 2030, the number of middle-class citizens will grow by an additional 1.6 billion worldwide, the report notes. These newly rich unleashed significant growth potential for tourism, as more people will have the financial resources to travel across borders.

Where to stay in Europe?  Look to the middle class and online reviews

Interestingly, Asian travelers now account for the same share of overnight stays in Europe as those from North America, helping the European accommodation sector to fully offset the negative effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and shoot well past the highest pre-pandemic level of 2019 .

Here’s a look at the key findings from the report:

Online reviews over hotel star ratings

Equipped with a smartphone, globetrotting voyagers are increasingly expecting services on-the-go, mobile payments, and personalization of all services. This all-encompassing mega trend disrupts some conventions when travelers express preference for online reviews over hotel stars. Travelers often prefer online reviews over hotel star ratings because the former provides more detailed and personalized information about the accommodations as well as the experiences of other travelers.

Direct bookings gain in popularity

Where to stay in Europe?  Look to the middle class and online reviews

According to the European Commission’s market study on the distribution practices of hotels in the EU, direct distribution has gained in popularity as real-time booking engines have become easier to set up and social media offers opportunities for direct content marketing to consumers. The more traditional channels such as a local travel agent with a storefront or wholesaler are less popular, but still significant.

Chain hotels still rule in Europe

French chain Accor is the largest hospitality company in Europe and is behind 16% of the region’s hotel construction. American hotel chains, Hilton and Marriott, are each building 12% of Europe’s new hotels. Overall, chain hotels are adding rooms at faster speeds than independent hotels in Europe.

Where to stay in Europe?  Look to the middle class and online reviews

Sustainability offers feel good factor

Booking.com’s Travel Sustainable badge offers partners across the world recognition for their sustainability practices. It is based on a set of the most impactful practices for a property to consider in five key areas: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature. And it answers a pressing demand from travelers, 57% of whom reported that they would feel better staying in accommodations that hold a sustainable certification.