The recent reopening of intra-provincial leisure travel has given the green light for South Africans to take a much-needed break away from home. Some 9,389 bookings across 2,646 properties were booked for this past long weekend, says online accommodation booking system provider NightsBridge.
The winner of the long weekend leisure windfall was the Western Cape, and while reopening leisure travel within provinces will provide a much-needed lifeline for some accommodation providers, it’s clear that many of the other provinces desperately need inter-provincial leisure travel to open up, says Managing Director Theresa Emerick.
“The Western Cape received 42% of the online bookings for this long weekend, with KwaZulu-Natal in second place at 16% and Gauteng 13%. However, accommodation providers in provinces like Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West are reliant on leisure travellers from other provinces and will need the lockdown to be lifted for leisure travel across provincial borders to survive.”
The data curated by NightsBridge indicates a sharp spike in bookings since the official announcement that intra-provincial leisure travel was allowed, leaving a window of just 9.6 days from booking to travel. Most of the days are short — commensurate with the length of the long weekend – 26% for one night, 38% for two nights and 30% for three nights.
Most of these bookings (46%) are interestingly for groups, i.e. multiple rooms (no children), followed by couples (37%). “Only 13% of bookings are for families, although self-catering is the clear winner with 38% of the bookings, followed by 19% for guest houses, and 19% for lodges. Guests are clearly looking for smaller accommodation types,” explains Emerick.
As South Africans get tentatively back in the leisure mindset, accommodation providers are re-engineering their businesses to ensure the safety and wellbeing of guests and staff through the adoption of robust health and safety protocols.
“The Tourism Business Council of South Africa established protocols which have been approved by the World Travel and Tourism Council and are being rolled out in earnest by the accommodation sector. Part of this means reducing physical contact wherever possible and maintaining guest tracing protocols,” says Emerick.
To that end, NightsBridge has instituted a new Guest Communications tool for its customers using NightsBridge’s cloud based BridgeIT solution. “We’re making it easier to collect guest information, along with the COVID-19 questionnaire before arrival. The form will be sent to the main guest who can complete it online or on their phone, then automatically saved back back to the guesthouse system, ensuring a contactless check-in process.
As the accommodation sector re-engineers how to improve the safety of guests, this is the first phase of new features that will be introduced by NightsBridge to make it even easier for its customers to roll out these safety protocols.