COVID-19: Insights on Travel Impact, Europe #10

April 6, 2020

With over 1.3 million confirmed cases and more than 69,000 deaths from COVID-19 globally as of 6th April, we are undoubtedly seeing significant impact across all industries around the world, including the travel industry. 

With our access to real-time traveller audiences and unmatched visibility into global travel demand, we’re in a unique position to share the current travel trends at the forefront of marketers’ minds. In this blog series, we’ll take a look at the data in order to aid travel marketers in their assessment of this worldwide event. They can use these trends to inform their marketing strategies during this period and be prepared for the recovery once the situation stabilises. 

Whilst no-one can anticipate the full impact of these exceptional circumstances, our data can provide some insight into how travellers are responding to the current situation, the more long-term impact that COVID-19 will have on destinations, and when the first signs of recovery start to appear. 

These insights are based on data collected on the 6th April, 2020. We will be reviewing our data on a weekly basis in order to provide a regular view of trends and patterns in consumer behaviour. Sojern’s insights are based on over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals, however it does not capture one hundred percent of the travel market.

Global Flight Searches and Bookings to Europe Still Down 

With travel restrictions and strict lockdowns still firmly in place across much of the world, global flight searches and bookings to Europe continue to decline. 


Global Flight Searches to Key European Markets 

Global Flight Bookings to Key European Markets

Intra Regional Travel Confidence Improves in Q4 and into Q1 2021

As stated in our post last week, we expect domestic travel to rebound first, followed by regional and then international travel. According to our data, we do indeed start to see increases in travel within Europe, starting in Q4 2020. Searches in intra European travel appear to grow from as early as October. 

We are now able to see into February 2021 travel search and booking signals, and it is worth noting that some of the uplift we see may be due to airlines opening up their 2021 timelines earlier than expected, as well as implementing more generous timelines for flight re-bookings, which could explain some of these increases.


European Flight Searches Made In Last 14 Days to Key European Destinations 

What is more heartening is that we see actual travel bookings from within Europe increase from December 2020 across the board in key markets. Of note, Spain and Italy as destinations, which are experiencing the heaviest impacts of COVID-19, see increases in year-over-year bookings of 503% and 149%, respectively, by February 2021.


European Flight Bookings Made In Last 14 Days to Key European Destinations 

Inbound Travel Intent to Italy Begins to Show Signs of Recovery in Q3-Q4 2020

Italy has been most severely affected by the COVID-19 in Europe to date, but it has always been a much sought-after destination for travellers from around the world. And while searches  to Italy are very low at the moment, we start to see signs of travel intent returning as early as November 2020 and continuing well into 2021. Intent is currently strongest from Eastern and Western Europe, as well as from the Middle East.


Flight Searches Made in Last 14 Days From International Regions to Italy

Italian Outbound Travel Intent Sees Uptick in Q3

While August is meant to be peak travel time for Italians due to summer holidays, and indeed for much of Southern Europe, we see travel bookings well down due to strict travel restrictions for this time period. However, our data shows that travel intent from Italy does increase in Q3 2020 and grows steadily into 2021, in line with the rest of Europe.

At present, Italian travellers are showing the most interest in travel to France, Spain and the UK. Travel searches from Italy to France in February 2021 are up nearly 600% year-over-year, up 489% from Italy to Spain, and up 773% from Italy to the UK for the same period. While travel bookings are a stronger sign of overall confidence, this is indeed a positive trend.


Flight Searches Made in last 14 Days From Italy to Key European Destinations

International Flight Bookings to Europe Improve in Early 2021

Much like last week, international flight bookings to Europe remain well below average for the remainder of 2020. However, we do see that international bookings start to improve in early 2021 for certain markets.

Most encouraging is that we see international flight bookings to the UK up over 9% in February 2021. France is also seeing an improvement in international bookings for that same time period. Although still being slightly down year-over-year, international flight bookings are only down 2%. Unfortunately, we see slow recovery at the moment for Italy, Spain, and Germany, down 41%, 60%, and 57% respectively.


European Flight Bookings From International Origins Made In Last 14 Days 

We will continue to share more insights as we monitor the situation. While global flight searches and bookings remain down at present, we do see sparks of improvement in Q4 2020 and into 2021, with searches and bookings up both within Europe and even internationally. These forward looking insights will hopefully help travel marketers shape their strategies when the industry starts to recover from this outbreak. 

For the rest of the COVID-19 insights series click here.

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