When the world shut down in March 2020, travel shut down with it. For many people, their ability to travel had never been restricted to such a degree. With international travel limited, interstate travel accompanied by stipulations, and airlines and hotels heeding and implementing social distancing guidelines, travelers are turning to Google Search to understand the new normal and its effect on their plans. We examine below for HSMAI some of the searches that trended well into the end of summer and their implications for travel marketers.
Can I Travel?
As borders have shut down and new guidelines have been put in place, it’s no surprise that people are seeking to understand how this has impacted their ability to travel. Global searches for “can i travel” have grown by over 800% year over year (YoY). Breakout (meaning the term grew by more than 5000%) search interest trends include: “can i travel during lockdown,” “can i travel during coronavirus,” and “where can i travel during covid.” For many, the decision to travel will be a personal one based on their own circumstances and when they are ready. It’s important then that travel marketers continue to communicate that their businesses are open and prepared to receive customers deciding to travel at this moment.
Is It Safe to Fly?
Searches for “safe to fly” have grown globally by over 500% YoY1, indicating uncertainty around the possibility of contracting or spreading COVID-19 on a flight. Many companies have already communicated enhanced safety protocols, but for airlines especially, this search behavior indicates that customers can benefit from continued messaging around cleanliness and social distancing standards on flights.
What Are the Travel Advisories to be Aware Of?
Searches for “travel advisory” have grown globally by over 60% YoY1, and searches for “travel restrictions by” have experienced breakout growth YoY. More than ever before, people want to understand where they cannot or should not travel. Online travel agencies and other booking platforms can assist travelers by keeping messaging regarding travel advisories and restrictions front and center.
Although people are being cautious and are still opting for socially-distanced, nearby outdoor activities, they haven’t stopped dreaming about longer trips. If anything, this down period has inspired consumers to plan even more for their future travel.
In a recent survey, we learned that consumers are honing in on their bucket list trips, and are eager to plan them for 2022. In fact, 72% of US consumers are likely to plan or book a bucket list trip when it is safe to travel again, and nearly 50% said they would definitely book a bucket list trip now, for travel in 2022 or beyond, if possible (34% would consider it).
People are eager to travel. Some may feel confident enough to travel now, but they need to fully understand the situation before they book. As we enter the fall months and continue to live in this new normal, our understanding of what travel looks like will change and bring about new questions. As the travel industry continues to fluctuate throughout the course of the pandemic, paying attention to changing traveler search behavior can help you understand what’s most important to them in the moment and respond accordingly.