Travel Trends Report 2020 – Coronavirus

In 2019, travel was the second fastest growing sector in the world. In 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the entire industry. To help you adapt to fast-moving changes in search behaviour, and prepare for a shift in behaviours long-term, we’re releasing our travel trends report.

The report uses Google Data Studio and daily trends data from Google Trends to help you stay informed of key search trends, and the implications on your search strategy. It features UK search trends surrounding travel advice, holiday planning, flights and domestic travel. There is also an interactive global map which displays respective travel warnings for each country. This is updated daily.

We have three aims:

  1. Help you measure the impact coronavirus has had on search demand
  2. Support you in adapting your marketing activity
  3. Encourage you to collaborate and share your own insights


1. Travel Advice

According to the GlobalWebIndex, 68% of holidaymakers have had their travel plans impacted by coronavirus. There is growing concern around travel advice, and you need to address this head on to reassure your customers. Customers will remember how they’re treated, and with a third still looking to rebook a cancelled or delayed trip, it pays to be helpful.

Our travel advice report follows the search interest of keywords ‘travel advice’, ‘cancel holiday’ and ‘refund holiday’ from the last 30 days. Whilst we are seemingly in the peak of all three trends, you should also anticipate future fluctuations in demand for travel advice as travel restrictions change over time. The report also includes keywords related to ‘travel advice’, which have seen the biggest growth in search demand from the last 7 days.

How you can use the report:

  • Use increases in search demand for ‘travel advice’ as a trigger to react to changes to travel restrictions quickly.

  • Prioritise your travel advice content using the week’s rising keywords, or adapt your content according to trends. 

2. Holiday Planning

UK holidaymakers showing signs of optimism

Data suggests customers are still looking for holidays, but their booking intentions differ depending on how far in the future they’d like to book. UK holidaymakers are slightly more optimistic than US vacationers with 48% anticipating a return to holiday planning in the next 6 months, compared to 41% in the US.

In our report, we follow the search interest of keywords such as ‘2021 holidays’ which we assume will trend positively when consumer appetite for travel strengthens. For travel to and from the UK, there are already signs of confidence for early 2021. Data from Sojern shows a 229% increase in global flight bookings made in the last 14 days to the UK for January 2021, with similar increases in bookings to Spain.

To help you determine when holidaymakers are most likely to book, we also compare the relative search demand of customers looking for holidays in July, August, September and October this year.

Expect fundamental shifts in travel behaviour

As restrictions begin to lift, there could be fundamental shifts in travel behaviour. 12% of holidaymakers in the UK are waiting until travel restrictions are lifted before booking their next holiday, which could narrow their booking journey. Prepare early for a surge in last minute bookers, and anticipate a fundamental shift in how people book holidays long-term. In our report, we track search interest for the keyword ‘last minute holidays’, as well as highlight the most popular keywords related to ‘last minute holidays’ from the last 30 days, so that you can keep on top of changes in search behaviour.

How you can use the report:

  • Monitor upward trends in search interest for ‘holidays 2021’ and use it as a trigger to explore interest in particular destinations for 2021.
  • Develop content and campaigns around the months that holidaymakers are likely to book. For example, ‘holidays in October’ currently has the highest relative search popularity of any month we track.
  • Review search trends for ‘last minute holidays’ and optimise for the most popular keywords (which will likely include key destinations and holiday types). 

3. Flights

The coronavirus outbreak has had a profound effect on the aviation industry. Many airlines are significantly reducing their flight capacity and are under extreme operational and financial pressures. While the future of commercial aviation is uncertain, our report aims to help you understand when interest will likely pick back up.

To help customers change their flights rather than cancel, EASYJET has launched its winter 2020-21 schedule. This has been paired with the waiving of change fees and discounted flights of under €32.10pp one way. Right now airliners need to provide a commitment to getting customers home and supporting them. Looking ahead, they then need to provide exceptional value to encourage customers who have had their holiday plans disrupted to book in the winter or in 2021.

How you can use the report:

  • Track 30 day trends for the keywords ‘cancel holidays’, and ‘is it safe to fly’ to detect whether concerns are easing and customer confidence is returning.
  • Use rising ‘flights’ keywords from the past 7 days to answer customer queries on whether flights to particular destinations are still running, or to optimise for flight routes increasing in popularity.

4. Domestic Travel

With the UK in lockdown, domestic travel, like international travel, has been significantly impacted. Center Parcs, Butlin’s and Haven are among some of those who have announced temporary closures and cancellations. But when restrictions are loosened, ‘staycations’ could rise in popularity as holidaymakers stay closer to home and avoid busy cities and public transport.

Already in March, UK tourism businesses were reporting a 40% increase in traffic versus last year. While this picture has changed with the recent government announcement on new restrictions, favouring the safety of home could become a longer-term trend. In our domestic travel report, we follow the 30 day search interest trends of ‘UK Breaks’, and holiday types such as ‘UK Cottages’, ‘City Breaks UK’ and ‘Spa Breaks UK’ to help you focus on domestic holiday types that might peak in interest. The table including the most popular keywords relating to ‘UK Breaks’ should also provide you with timely keywords and categories to focus on.

How you can use the report:

  • Monitor search sentiment for domestic travel using the 30 day trends for ‘UK Breaks’. If relevant to your travel brand, shift focus to UK travel as search interest begins to rise. 
  • Customers are tending to look for exclusivity and isolation as we employ social distancing. Use the popular keywords table as a way to determine the changes in domestic booking intent ie. rural vs city. 

Search interest: Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means that there was not enough data for this term.

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