COVID-19 has hit the travel industry harder than almost any other industry. Over the first few weeks, even as the stock market began to drop and prices of major travel companies dipped, visitation to sites in the “Travel” category didn’t change significantly.
We certainly didn’t see anything different than what the prior few weeks had shown – mild volatility marked by single-digit weekly gains or losses across the different travel sectors.
However, in early March when new coronavirus cases began to exceed 2,000 per day across the globe, and the WHO characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, travel plans quickly changed. Our data began to show major changes across all travel categories.
The cruise sector was the first to see a spike in visitation the week of March 2 – likely customers visiting cruise sites to cancel their already-booked cruises. The following week, airline sites were flooded with visitors likely doing the same thing – canceling trips. We also saw stronger than average weekly growth for hotel and rental sites, as well as online travel agencies such as Expedia and Booking.com. The “Car Transportation” sector was also heavily impacted by a sharp decline in visitation to ride hail apps such as Uber and Lyft.
By the week of March 16th, many across the country were practicing social distancing and travel plans for many had been significantly changed. As a result, visitation to travel sites plummeted over the past few weeks.
Comscore will continue to monitor all of these factors closely over the coming weeks and months to ensure that our clients and the industry are kept updated on all the current shifts in digital consumption.
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