COVID-19: Travel Insights and Co-Op Marketing [Webinar]

There are extreme restriction and policy variations across the globe.

July 2, 2020

With our access to real-time traveler 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 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 stabilizes.

These insights are based on data collected on June, 29th 2020. We will be reviewing our data on a regular basis to provide a view of trends and patterns in consumer behavior. Sojern’s insights are based on over 350 million traveler profiles and billions of travel intent signals, however it does not capture one hundred percent of the travel market.

Extreme Restriction and Policy Variations Across the Globe

It would appear that countries are following different schools of thought across the globe in terms of lifting lockdowns. Some countries have opted to enact strict policies to bar anyone but citizens to cross borders in hopes of eradicating the pandemic or getting the number of infections as close to zero as possible. Other countries seem to be letting the number of hospitalizations and available beds guide their decision-making in terms of easing restrictions.

Some areas, like the states of Florida and Texas, have even gone as far as to reverse the reopening efforts due to an extreme growth in cases, coming to over 2.5 million in the US last week. Health officials estimate the number of cases in the US to likely be 10 times higher than the confirmed total. In the US, the case surge is being driven by a younger demographic between ages 18 and 34, especially in the south and west regions.

The European Union finalized it’s list of 14 “safe” nations that would be allowed to cross its borders beginning July 1, and the US did not make that list. This is likely due to that fact that the two countries are going in opposite directions in dealing with the outbreak. While Europe is trending down, US cases are steadily climbing.

A county near Beijing has implemented another strict lockdown as cases spike, allowing only one person from each family to go out once per day to purchase food or medicine. This news comes after it appeared China had the virus under control and was steadily approaching “normal”. Conversely, Hong Kong’s Disneyland officially opened its doors last week after remaining closed for five months, showing the deep dichotomy in reopening strategies even within countries. Also showcasing how eager some regions are to resume tourism operations, Singapore announced the gradual reopening of tourism beginning July 1. The reopening will allow 13 attractions to continue with operations, including Universal Studios.

In Latin America (LATAM), Brazil, the largest population in LATAM followed by Mexico, continues to carry the biggest load of cases (more than triple the rest of the countries infection numbers in LATAM). Some countries are reopening despite a growing number of deaths and infections. Brazil has allowed non-essential businesses to open this week. Rio de Janiero will begin Phase 1 of reopening, shocking news for some as the death toll surpassed that of China’s as a whole throughout the entire pandemic last week.

Taking Financial Burden Away From Consumers

A notable trend in the travel sector is the offering of major discounts and contributions from destinations to encourage travel. Cancun is offering a buy two, get two day deal on hotel and car rentals as well as discounts at theme parks, spas, and golf courses. Sicily, Italy is covering 50% of air travel and accommodation costs and offering free attractions tickets. Cyprus has offered to cover trip costs and medicine if a traveler contracts COVID-19 on the island. The discounts demonstrate how deeply some places rely on travel dollars to fuel the economy and how much they’re willing to give to get tourism up and running again.

Travel Trends in Sojern Data

Our data shows that the Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regions are showing strong week-over-week growth in domestic hotel searches since the end of April. While the US and LATAM initially grew, searches have dipped in June. The US is showing a two week decline and LATAM’s first decline came on the week of June 14. As noted, some states within the US are slowing/pausing reopening plans in response to spiking COVID cases, which could explain the decline in domestic hotel searches.

As many international borders remain closed, regions see increased search intent for drive markets. We identify drive markets as people searching for hotels in under 500 miles distance from their origin. North America is the only region that saw a decrease from May to June. This trend is largely driven by the United States, which is seeing increased demands for domestic air travel beginning to slow growth in drive markets over the month of June.

Moving forward, it’s unclear how some of the recent trends will impact travel, but we will likely see changes as COVID-19 cases are increasing, travel restrictions are lifting or being instated, and airline policies are changing (some airlines are making the shift to full capacity).

Sojern’s Webinar Series: Travel Co-Op Marketing: Stronger Together

In our webinar, Visit California’s Associate VP of Global Marketing, Leona Reed, joins Sojern’s Director of SMB & Tourism, Cat Origitano, to discuss how DMOs can work together with hotels and attractions to combine marketing efforts that help bring visitors to their destinations, properties, attractions, and more. We discuss what co-op marketing is, provide best practices, and share real world case studies, followed by a live Q&A.

Please download the slides here.

For real-time insights specific to your region or country, check out our insights dashboard.

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