COVID-19: Insights on Travel Impact, Europe – November

Domestic travel across Italy has shown significant growth.

Suzy Ley
November 25, 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 23rd November, 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.

Travel Intent in Relation to Vaccine Announcements

The first ‘milestone’ vaccine announcement came on 9th November where Pfizer and BioNTech presented a vaccine that offers 90% protection against COVID-19. Since then we have heard more from the likes of Moderna and Oxford University on further vaccine developments. The news prompted an increase in ‘travel giant’s’ stock prices and seemingly had a positive impact on travel intent around the globe.

Year-to-Date Weekly Flight Searches - Indexed to w/c 31st May

Sojern data shows that following the huge drop in European travel since the week of 18th October (a result of recently implemented lockdowns), the news of the vaccine boosted traveller enthusiasm and has resulted in a slight uptick in travel searches. Although the graph below shows weekly flight searches only, the same trend is being recorded with hotels.


September to November Inbound Flight Searches to Europe - Future Travel Dates

The vaccine announcements in November also seem to have had an impact on future travel dates. When looking at searches made in September and October for future flight departure dates, they were pretty flat, with March showing a very slight uplift. However, the news appears to have accentuated this trend, highlighting a clear demand for travel in March 2021.

Global Travel Intent to Southern Europe Plateaus

Year-to-Date Global Flight Searches to Key Southern European Markets - Indexed to w/c 5th April

Amid all of the continued uncertainty around international travel, and even domestic travel with the recent implementation of lockdowns across Europe, it is expected that travel searches and bookings will be negatively affected. Taking a look at a selection of key Southern European destinations it is clear that travel intent generally peaked late June/early July (when restrictions were lifted and borders were opened), followed by a gradual decline, plateauing out in November.

However, Portugal, Italy, and Spain have seen inbound travel intent slowly increase as of November, suggesting travellers are still optimistic that they will be able to visit these areas in the coming months.

Domestic Travel Across Italy Has Shown Strong Growth

Year-to-Date Italy Hotel Searches and Bookings - Domestic and International Indexed to w/c 5th April

Although domestic and international travel intent to Italy have also been impacted by COVID-19, it is good news that during the second round of lockdowns across the region, searches and bookings have not dropped as low as they did earlier this year in April during the first ‘wave’. As expected, domestic travel intent and confidence have grown faster than international travel.

However, for both domestic and international, the increase in hotel booking volumes has been steadier, with more extreme peaks and drops recorded in searches. The peak in these searches is around the week commencing 9th August, slightly later than that noted in global flight searches as mentioned previously. This could be due to people searching for flight availability in advance, keeping an eye on new travel restrictions, and then searching and booking for their accommodation once they were more confident that travel would be permitted.

The recent vaccine announcements have had a positive impact on travel intent and travellers are looking ahead and planning their March 2021 trips. Key Southern European destinations experienced their highest inbound flight searches in June and July (since COVID-19 hit) and have since decreased. However, there are positive signs that these are beginning to grow again.

Finally, Italians continue to plan and book their local trips, and international travel confidence is higher than it was during the first wave of COVID-19.

These insights will hopefully help travel marketers shape their strategies as the industry recovers from this outbreak. View more real-time insights on Sojern's Travel Insights dashboard.

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