Comscore has been following the weekly trends in online travel category visitation and engagement as the coronavirus pandemic altered the global travel landscape. After the initial steep decline in travel site visitation during the week of March 16, 2020, there wasn’t much change over subsequent weeks.
During the five-week period, between March 23, 2020 and April 26, 2020, visits to travel sites were down as much as 70 percent vs. early February 2020. However, May 2020 data are trending in a more positive direction, at least for Airline, Hotel & Vacation Rental, and Online Travel Agent sites.
The week of April 27, 2020 highlighted positive movement in visitation for the Hotel & Vacation Rental category, while visits to Online Travel Agencies and Airline sites ticked up later in May. These increases in visitation for certain travel categories correlate with spikes in on-site engagement (minutes per visitor), and in some cases even preceded the positive visitation trends.
In a prior blog from May 1, 2020, we speculated that the increase in travel site engagement might be related to consumers planning trips in anticipation of being able to safely travel again. While consumer engagement may indeed be a leading indicator of travel site visitation, we have also seen some recovery in May 2020 for hotel and vacation rental bookings. There is still a long way to go before booking volumes get back to pre-pandemic levels, but recent data are trending in the right direction.
Some travel brands have said that this pandemic has been worse for their business than 9/11 and the 2008 recession combined, as the sales numbers reflect this terrible time for the travel industry. Overall, desktop spending in the travel category in April 2020 was down 77 percent vs. April 2019.
But, with the uptick in hotel and vacation rental bookings in May 2020, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that April 2020 ends up being the worst month for the travel industry and things improve from here on out. Comscore will continue to monitor these trends and report our findings as things change.
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