Travel in Times of COVID-19

Travel in Times of COVID-19

How the Coronavirus Will Impact Bookings, Sales and Advertising

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About This Report
The coronavirus has upended the US travel industry. Fears of infection, governmental measures restricting travel and access to public places, and the economic downturn will depress bookings, sales and ad spending in 2020 and beyond.

Executive Summary

Few industries have been hit as hard by the coronavirus as travel. Recovery will be slow, with many sectors not returning to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2022. Some pandemic-related trends, like increased local “staycations,” may persist.

How has the pandemic changed our US and UK digital travel sales forecasts?

US and UK digital travel sales in 2020 will each fall by nearly 50% year over year. We don’t expect sales will reach pre-pandemic levels until 2022 as people continue to travel less for work and pleasure. Those who do travel will likely choose domestic car trips over bigger-ticket international air travel, further depressing sales.

Which US travel sectors will be most affected by the pandemic?

No sector is immune, but airlines, cruises and lodging are among those that will suffer the most. In terms of destinations, domestic travel will fare better than international travel. Across the industry, the largest losses were incurred in April and May, with gradual improvements expected through the end of the year.

When will US consumers start to travel again?

As warmer weather beckons, more people are starting to warm up to the idea of traveling. But persistent fears of infection, uncertainty over their personal finances and governmental measures will still keep many at (or close to) home. Safety is consumers’ No. 1 priority for travel, and the availability of a vaccine is a major factor in their future travel plans.

How have US travel advertisers responded to the pandemic?

As consumers canceled and postponed their trips, many advertisers did the same with their campaigns. Current and future travel messaging will emphasize safety, flexibility and empathy.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores the impact of the coronavirus on the US travel industry, including our latest forecasts for digital travel sales, bookers and researchers.

KEY STAT: We expect US digital travel sales to fall by 44.7% in 2020 to $115.27 billion and remain below pre-pandemic levels until 2022.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Digital Travel Sales: Our Forecast for 2020
  3. US Travel Industry Timeline
  1. Travel Advertising and Marketing
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

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authors

Jasmine Enberg

Contributors

Ross Benes
Analyst
Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Bill Fisher
Senior Analyst
Brian Lau
Digital Apprentice
Melissa Rosenberg
Senior Researcher