Sonder’s European expansion plans highlight success amid the pandemic

Sonder’s European expansion plans have not been halted due to COVID-19 as the company is now exploring the Spanish market, with a keen eye on Madrid and Barcelona. Sonder is in a position to expand in 2021 due to a successful 2020 – in relation to the vast majority of other major lodging companies. Its awareness to react to the new traveler need of extended stays allowed the company to navigate successfully through the first major peak of the pandemicsays GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ralph Hollister, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “According to GlobalData, total visitation to Madrid (domestic and international) increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5% between 2017 and 2019, showcasing strong tourism demand pre-pandemic, in a city which is very much mature as a destination. Sonder will be hoping that leisure demand for city breaks will swiftly return to Madrid when it fully opens back up to tourists. However, this hope does carry an element of risk as many tourists may continue the new travel trend of holidaying domestically in rural locations in 2021, which could hurt occupancy rates for at least the short term.”

As well as being attractive city break locations for leisure tourists, Madrid and Barcelona are successful MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destinations, which will play into Sonder’s hands when this type of tourism recovers. According to GlobalData, MICE and all other forms of business travel in Spain increased by 6.1% year-on-year (YOY) in 2019, with Madrid being named the ‘World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination’ at the 26th edition of the World Travel Awards in 2019. Sonder already has a proven track record with business travelers; before the pandemic it had expanded its presence in New York City, stating about one-third of its stays were from corporate travelers.

Hollister adds: “The range of services offered by Sonder including contactless check-ins, professional cleaning services, in-suite laundry and 24/7 support through a mobile app will help the company to meet further changes in demands caused by the pandemic, such as the increased need for: privacy, seclusion, cleanliness and hygiene and reduced face-to-face interaction with staff.”

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