COVID-19: Insights on Travel Impact, Europe #74

October 28, 2020

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, as the industry stabilises. 

These insights are based on data collected on the 27th October, 2020. We will be reviewing our data on a regular basis in order to provide a 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 Travel to European Destinations

Inbound flight searches to key European markets continue to remain stable, with a slight drop over the last week across the destinations listed below. Greece and Spain continue to have the strongest levels of travel intent when comparing inbound travel searches to both destinations in the same period in 2019. 


YoY% Global Flight Searches to Key European Markets 

The ‘Traffic Light’ System and Short Booking Windows 

The European Union has implemented a traffic light system in the hope of making regional travel less complicated. Countries have been, and will continue on a weekly basis to be, designated green, orange or red in relation to current infection rates. All data will be provided by the European Centre for Disease Control. This system means that travellers from green and orange regions can travel more freely without quarantine, and in most cases without requiring a negative COVID-19 test result. 

The uncertainty of travel over the last six months has led to increasingly short lead times. Although the introduction of the traffic light system should go a long way in providing travellers with freedom of movement between participating Member States, it is likely they will continue to lean towards shorter booking windows due to the weekly nature of the updates. 

The graph below highlights the growth in popularity of ‘last-minute’ searches when comparing volumes in January, to October. The purple line represents January searches to key European markets, displaying the share of searches across departure months. Although volumes are highest for January departures, it is clear that travellers were also planning ahead and searching for flights throughout the year, with a high level of global travel intent for summer trips to Greece in July. When comparing this to the blue line (October searches) it is apparent that search windows have decreased as searches for future departure dates drop off significantly quicker, with search volumes for February 2021 onwards very low and flat. This suggests that hotels, destinations, attractions, and other travel brands should be focussing on targeting with messaging that appeals to the ‘last-minute’ travel planners.


2020 Year-to-Date Global Flight Search Volume by Departure Month – January vs October

Planning for the 2020 Traveller 

With lead times now in a lot of cases as short as the trip, and a large volume of people travelling locally, are you adjusting your strategy to suit the 2020 traveller?

Looking at global flight searches over the last 60 days, one quarter are for trips within the following two to seven days. In contrast, those planning for future trips (91+ days away) account for only 11% of the total volume. As well as a popular lead time of two to seven days, this is also providing to be the most popular trip duration being searched for (when looking at the last 60 days). In addition, the biggest percentage (37%) of travellers are looking to travel less than 500 miles. 

It is important to keep the ever-changing behaviours of travellers in mind when planning your strategy over the coming weeks and months. As travel remains uncertain, using data to analyse where, when, who with, and how people are planning their upcoming trips is critical in driving demand. For ongoing insights you can use Sojern’s Real-Time COVID-19 Travel Data Insights Dashboard


Global Flight Search Events to Key European Destinations – From the Last 60 Days 

Includes – France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, UK

Inbound travel intent to Europe has dropped slightly but remains fairly stable. The introduction of the new traffic light system in Europe will likely have a positive impact on traveller confidence, however lead times continue to be very short. A brief look into traveller behaviour over the last 60 days shows a shift towards short lead times, trips of up to a week, and within 500 miles. These insights will hopefully help travel marketers shape their strategies as the industry recovers from this outbreak.

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

About Suzy Ley

Suzy is Sojern's Marketing Manager, EMEA and APAC and works in the London office. With a background in Fashion, Technology and Interiors PR, as well as Marketing in the security industry, travel is her true passion and has led her to her previous role at Singapore Airlines, and current role at Sojern. She loves all things creative and can't resist taking part in an escape room.  

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