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Google Search data suggests travel recovery is still a ways to go

Google search data shows that people are not searching for the popular "Hotel", "Flights", and "Travel" terms anywhere near as much as last year, or earlier in the year for that matter.  Furthermore, most of the related searches for "Travel" and "Flights" are around cancellations and Covid19 restrictions.  On the bright side during the week leading into July 4th, search for "Hotels" was at roughly 75% of last years levels. The term "Travel" is roughly at the same level as last year but searches for "Flights" are considerably down. 

What am I looking at? In the graph above, you are seeing US search volume for the terms "Hotels" in blue, "Travel" in red, and "Flights"in yellow--from June 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.  The lines compare search volume across the terms and across time.  The scale is relative to the highest searched term at a particular period in time.  A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular.  You can run your cursor over it to see specific dates. 

What's the story?  Interest for these terms peaked in the second week of March as the shutdown began and travelers tried to rearrange their plans.  Search interest then bottomed out in April (along with hotel occupancies), and has started to recover very slowly.   Searches for "Hotels" & "Travel" seem to have recovered the fastest as we near the 4th of July holiday signaling that consumers are ready to travel, but not yet ready to fly in the numbers they once did.  Travel recovery will continue to be driven by drive destinations.  Without a recovery in "fly" destinations, we can continue to expect a slow rebound for the industry as a whole.  

When we dig further, we see that people's related search terms tell us that they are still cautious around travel.  Below you will see related queries which are seeing the most increase for each term.

Term: Hotels
  1. are hotels open
  2. are hotels open in florida
  3. bonvoy hotels
  4. marriott bonvoy
  5. zen hotels

Term: Travel
  1. travel ban coronavirus
  2. coronavirus travel restrictions
  3. travel restrictions coronavirus
  4. coronavirus travel advisory
  5. covid 19 travel restrictions

Term: Flights
  1. airlines canceling flights
  2. international flights to india
  3. domestic flights
  4. flights to china
  5. flights

Data Source: Google Trends, July 1st, 2020.  Please note that this data is freely available courtesy of Google via Google Trends.  All opinions my own. 


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