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Key Takeaways From the Second Quarter of 2023

That’s the first half of 2023 done and Q3 is upon us. We’ve already reflected on the trends we saw in Q1, so following on from that, here’s what we’ve seen in Q2.

Average ad CPC was 25.8% lower versus the same time last year

And down 1.8% versus last quarter. This is particularly interesting as ​​Google reported that May is the month that saw the highest CPCs in this industry, and may well be the highest month of the year. So the fact that our clients on average have seen declines in a quarter with the most costly month, is great to see. However, for those who did see an increase in average ad CPC this quarter, based on Google’s data, this was to be expected.Many are still feeling the effects of 2020, 2021 and 2022 being record-breaking years – particularly in the US. As we explored in a previous article, it’s difficult to not feel disappointed when numbers aren’t reaching the same levels experienced in the peak-pandemic anomaly years when international travel was rare to non-existent. But our data shows that things are marginally slower this year versus the last couple of years, but versus 2019, 2023 remains a very strong year. 

18.8% revenue decline versus last year, but 15.8% more than previous quarter

Many are still feeling the effects of 2020, 2021 and 2022 being record-breaking years – particularly in the US. As we explored in a previous article, it’s difficult to not feel disappointed when numbers aren’t reaching the same levels experienced in the peak-pandemic anomaly years when international travel was rare to non-existent. But our data shows that things are marginally slower this year versus the last couple of years, but versus 2019, 2023 remains a very strong year. 
STR reported that US hotel demand fell by 0.3% last quarter, with particularly flat year-over-year figures for May and June. STR’s President, Amanda Hite explained “While concerning, we believe the recent demand trends signal a return to industry normalcy as the traveler mix, market blend and day-of-week levels stabilize. Conversely, RevPAR grew 2.5% in Q2, slightly below our expectations, while up 8.7% year to date, which is ahead of our full-year forecast”.

13.3% decline in transactions from ads versus last quarter but 1.7% more revenue so higher value.

Since post-pandemic openings most properties have been able to increase and maintain higher rates and despite recession fears, there are minimal signs of rates needing to fall. STR research from Q1 found that only 5% of people said that travel is where they’d reduce their spending to save money. Time and time again we see that travel remains a high priority for those in the United States.

So while bookings are lower for many, increased rates, or guests staying in more premium accommodation types or for longer, means that bookings are of higher value.

10.4% decline in sessions versus same time last year

International travel is significantly more abundant this year which opens up more choices for travelers, so it’s no surprise that sessions are in decline. We’re not in 2020 or 2021 when there was a narrower pool of destinations to choose from domestically. Not the world is your oyster. 

However, on average there has also been a decline in ad impressions delivered from Google Ads versus the same period last year, however queries are up, suggesting greater competition.

It is worth noting that 62% of all Google ad impressions last quarter were delivered on a mobile device.

Searches for OTA websites picked up since May

We now know that May is deemed to be the most expensive month for Google Ads CPCs, and to add to that, since May there has been an increase in searches for booking.com in the US. Monitoring the proportion of direct to OTA traffic during this period is particularly important.

However, searches for Expedia have been reasonably stable all year.

For those of you who are working with our team on digital marketing, if you’re curious about any other benchmarks we’re seeing, speak to your Digital Strategist and they’d be happy to share more on the trends we’re seeing. If we’re not already working together, and you’re looking to understand more on how to interpret your data, we invite you to contact Director of Sales, Linda, to learn more about how we can help.


Benchdirect, and STR’s hospitality industry survey are two other ways to understand industry trends and benchmarks to look at against your own data. Please feel free to reach out to learn more about these.