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Key events lifting U.K. hotel occupancy later in 2021

For many parts of the world, hotel performance is forecasted for more meaningful improvement during the second half of 2021. That optimism is underpinned by the assumption of widespread vaccination distribution, lower COVID-19 case numbers and improved context for travel and events.

In Europe, STR’s forward-looking data supports that optimism with visible market-level spikes around key events scheduled for the second quarter and beyond. This data, powered by Forward STAR, is a significant advancement for an industry needing to make the most of recovery when it kicks into gear. 

Below are a few glaring examples right now for Scotland and the U.K.

UN Climate Change Conference

Originally scheduled for November 2020, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) was rescheduled for 1-12 November 2021. Looking forward to early November, Glasgow’s occupancy on the books is trending between 84% and 89% for the event period, which would be a massive jump from the sub-20 and 30% levels on the books for the rest of the year. The days before and after the conference are also showing much improved occupancy levels.

UN Climate Change Conference

Thanks to its proximity to Glasgow, the Edinburgh market also shows levels of more than 30% as it captures conference overflow. While not nearly as high as the official host market, Edinburgh’s occupancy on the books during the conference was higher than the same time last year. For instance, Edinburgh’s occupancy on the books for 3 November is 36%. During this time last year, it was just 9%.

Edinburgh Capturing UN Climate Change Conference Overflow

Sporting Events

Confirmed reservations for the next year in London are timid, with levels sitting mostly below 10%. However, the market shows a pair of modest spikes due to large sporting events.

The highest level for occupancy on the books (21%) is currently showing on 18 June, the day of the UEFA Euro group stage match between England and Scotland. Later in the year on 2 October, the day before the London Marathon, occupancy on the books sits at 15%.

Because of the pandemic, guest tendency has shifted to shorter booking windows. For these sporting events, an uptick in leisure travel, especially domestic leisure travel, could push levels higher in the upcoming months. At the same time, unfortunately, cancellations could also be more prevalent if the pandemic situation is not improved.

COVID-19 prompted the most hotel closures in history. In our upcoming on-demand session, released on 11 March ahead of #HotelDataConf, we'll dissect our closure data to help you make sense of inventory shifts and the subsequent impact to hotel performance.

In Edinburgh, occupancy on the books is currently 57% and 63% for the night before and the night of the British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan on Saturday, 26 June. The match night occupancy on the books is almost double the level from the same time last year.


While occupancy on the books remains low across the region, pickup has at least been on the rise for key event dates in 2021. At the same time, pickup for the rest of 2021 has fallen off due to continued uncertainty and increased capacity allowing for shorter booking times.

Occupancy-on-the-books intelligence will help pinpoint recovery and provide much-needed context. Those insights can be accessed for free when you submit your data. If you are interested, please email

Further insights are provided in our latest Europe webinar here.