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COVID-19: Impact of event schedule adjustments on Europe hotels

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen a number of large events and conferences postponed or cancelled in major markets around the world. In this latest analysis, we look closely at Europe, specifically those markets with large event schedule adjustments and the subsequent impact on the hotel performance.

We begin with the most significant adjustment to date, that being the canceled Mobile World Congress, which is normally held in Barcelona each February. In 2020, the event would have taken place between 24-26 February. However, in the weeks running up to the conference, several large companies pulled out of the event, and on 12 February, the event was cancelled. 

In the chart below, powered by data from Forward STAR, we see how forward bookings drop as soon as the cancellation announcement was made and then what actualized into last week. 


At the start of the week of 10 February, business on the books for 24 February was at 89% for Barcelona; for the 25th it was 93%; for the 26th it was 92%; and for the 27th it was 82%.

The week after, we see a drop to 69% for the 24th, 67% for the 25th, 65% for the 26th and 52% for the 27th.

In the final teal bar in the above chart, we have included actualized occupancy. There we see even further drops, which indicates that many did not cancel and were reported in as “no shows.”


Also during the week of 24 February, we saw noticeable declines in Italy, particularly in the northern region of the country. As reports surfaced of the virus spread in Italy, football matches were required to take place with no fan access permitted, leaving television broadcasts as the only viewing option. Similarly, fashion week in Milan took place with restricted access and livestream viewing. Venice went a bit further and cancelled all public events, including carnival. Then on 4 March, Italy ordered a 2-week closure of all schools in the country. Clearly, governments emphasized the safety of their citizens with extra precautions where needed.

In Greece, we saw performance declines in Athens following the cancellation of carnival.

While it remains too early to measure the full impact on Berlin in the wake of adjustments to IHIF (postponement to May) and ITB (cancellation), there will be plenty to report in the coming weeks. In Munich (IHM Munich cancelled) and Vienna (EDCON cancelled), declines were visible this past week due to event cancellations. In Austria overall, train service was temporarily interrupted.

In Paris, there have not been highly publicized event cancellations, however, the market is still navigating through the effects of the “gilets jaunes” protest movement, which began to affect hotel performance at the end of 2018 and again into parts of 2019.

Switzerland cancelled all meetings and events of 1,000 plus people. That resulted in the Geneva Motor show being cancelled and a 12.5% decline in occupancy.

Visit STR’s COVID-19 landing page for hotel performance insights in other regions of the world.