North of the border

North of the border

By Katrina Bio November 15th 2021 Benchmarking
Time to read: 3 mins

Scotland’s hotel industry has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but as a new norm settles, we take a look at how current performances compare to 2019 and 2020. 


Tourism is of course the the biggest influencer of the hotel market, and Scotland is no exception. 2019 was a particularly strong year with data from Visit Scotland putting overnight trips and spend at their highest between 2009 and 2019 at 17.5 million and £5.9 billion spend respectively. UK residents made up roughly 80% and international trips 20%. Little did we know that international travel, large-scale events and hospitality would come to a standstill months later. Fast forward 18 months and we can see strong signs of recovery as the Scottish hotel industry bounces back. 


Sessions, number of transactions, and revenue are all good indicators for how well your hotel website is performing. The below chart represents the performance of Scottish hotels between June, 2019 and October, 2021 (all star categories), in particular average monthly website sessions. 

After a peak in December, 2019, we can start to see sessions bottom out as the UK introduced the first national lockdown in March 2020. As Covid cases began to decline in April/May, and the hospitality industry was permitted a phased re-opening, sessions began to pick up as people began searching for hotel accommodation in Scotland. In August 2020, sessions were up 45% on the same period in 2019. When comparing August 2019 with August 2021, sessions were up 187%.

A similar pattern emerges for average number of website transactions. As travel restrictions eased and international travel resumed in line with traditional holiday periods pent-up demand saw the number of bookings increase with peaks in January and August 2020 and again in August 2021. Scotland’s hotels enjoyed an average of 133 bookings in July 2021 compared to only a slightly higher average for UK hotels of 142. 

While website revenue in summer 2020 was slightly behind that of 2019, the chart below illustrates the increase in website revenue for summer 2021 compared with 2019 of 110% with peaks in June, August and October.


Edinburgh is famed for hosting events, festivals, concerts and conferences and the city’s event spaces have historically been packed with year-round programmes and visitors. The story is similar in Glasgow, traditionally host to major conferences and events at venues like the OVO Hydro. The impact of Covid-19 was strongly felt by the city’s hotels as conference and events business came to an abrupt halt.

For Scotland’s city hotels, 2021 saw a surge in May as the stay at home order was lifted and hospitality began to re-open with Edinburgh moving to level 2 several weeks before Glasgow. Illustrated in the below charts, website revenue peaked at the end of May as a result of a busy bank holiday along with sessions but have since levelled out, staying above 2020 for the same periods. 

Looking forward, as more and more travel restrictions are lifted and travel corridors to the US fully re-open, additional growth is expected. Across Scotland, hotels are enjoying a welcome staycation boost and events like the Cop-26 summit signalling the re-start of major events.
Comparing domestic searches for places to stay in your area with international searches can help you focus your on-line marketing spend and reach the right audience. According to Hotel Insights with Google interest in Scotland over the last 12 weeks is predominantly domestic – 93% and 7% international.

If you would like to begin receiving free reports from Hotel Benchmark, just sign up here. All you will need is your Google Analytics user name and password. 


Katrina Bio

Katrina has been working in the hospitality industry since 1993, more recently at Hotel Benchmark, uncovering insight from a wealth of data.