Travel Sites' Consumer Engagement Down Amid COVID-19 Resurgence

New research from Comscore, a trusted data-science and insights firm, has discovered that consumer engagement levels on travel-related websites took a fall amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. as states started reopening in June.

It seems the general public’s eagerness to escape from lockdowns hasn’t overcome Americans’ overall apprehensiveness about traveling again while the current pandemic persists.

Engagement with travel brands fell during March and bottomed out in April amid stay-at-home orders and continued global travel bans, but early June insights from Comscore showed increased consumer interest being demonstrated across multiple travel categories during the month of May.

Consumer engagement in May (as measured in unique visitors’ minutes spent on a specific webpage, and visits to travel websites increased, as did subsequent online bookings by users. Such positive trends offered reason to hope that the industry might be starting to enjoy a bit of recovery.

However, with states’ gradual lifting of stay-at-home orders and the reopening of the economy has come another wave of new COVID-19 infections, which seems to have caused another decline in the consumer-interest metrics measured in June.

The Comscore Media Metrix measured that the average minutes-per-visitor in the ‘Online Travel Agents’ category decreased from 16.3 minutes during the week of June 1 to 12.7 minutes during the week of June 29. For the same period, minutes-per-visitor spent in the ‘Airline’ category also dropped from 12.9 minutes to 10.7 minutes.

A drop in overall visitation to travel sites followed on the heels of an initial downturn in consumer engagement observed in mid-June.

In terms of the average number of weekly site visits for the week of June 22 compared those during the week of June 29 (indexed against the week of February 3, 2020), indices for the ‘Airlines’ and ‘Home & Vacation Rental’ categories fell 10 and 13 points, respectively.

Currently, the only travel segment ‘Vacation Rental Brands’ to have already recovered its pre-pandemic booking levels, while all other industry segments are experiencing bookings at 40- to 60-percent lower than February 2020 levels.

Comscore’s initial July 2020 numbers suggest that travel-booking growth is also slowing again, although the company plans to continue monitoring these trends and providing ongoing insights.

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