Skift Recovery Index: Week of July 19


This report highlights the latest insights from the Skift Recovery Index. We have added data for July 19 to July 25. The total available dataset now spans from December 29th, 2019 to July 25th, 2020 (weeks 1 to 30).

The Skift Recovery Index is a real-time measure of where the travel industry at large — and the core verticals within it — stands in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides the travel industry with a powerful tool for strategic planning, of utmost importance in this uncertain business climate.

We are working with Amadeus, Arrivalist, Collinson, Criteo, Duetto, Hotelbeds, Key Data Dashboard, OAG, RateGain, Shiji Group, SimilarWeb, SiteMinder, Skyscanner, Sojern, Transparent, and TrustYou as data partners for the Skift Recovery Index.

Moving forward, we will switch from weekly to monthly reports to highlight key recovery trends, but we will continue to provide weekly data updates.

Slow growth continues

We are now 30 weeks into 2020, and it’s been 15 weeks since the travel industry reached its lowest point in terms of performance. At present, the global Skift Recovery Index score stands at 42%, compared to the same time last year.

It is only a modest continuation of recovery which we have become accustomed to, but it is recovery nonetheless. That said, it is a mixed bag across different countries, which we will investigate further below.

Exhibit 1: Continued slow recovery

While most of the recovery over the past weeks stemmed from growth in the lodging vertical, we are now seeing a return to growth in the drive vertical and a stagnation in the lodging segment.

Exhibit 2: Drive returns to growth

Overall searches continue to go up, as are overall bookings. Flight searches, in particular, have seen a surge since borders in many countries started opening around mid-June. Flight bookings, however, continue to trail hotel bookings significantly.

Interestingly, for hotels it is the exact opposite, with hotel searches not up as much as hotel bookings. This might be a result of the index design, which aggregates data from different sources, and therefore not always compares apples with apples, but it might also be an indication that before the pandemic many people would search for hotels without booking, whereas this “holiday dreaming” behavior is less prevalent today.

Exhibit 3: Positive search and booking trends

Travel intent driven by health situation

When looking at this data at the country level, it is clear that searches and bookings are still very much driven by the health situation.

Take the U.S. for example. An initial peak of new daily coronavirus cases was reached on May 2nd, after which cases started declining. Searches and bookings likewise increased, as did scheduled seat capacity of flights. However, since June 19, new daily cases have risen above 30,000 again and have continued to rise since. The effect on flight searches and bookings is stark. Schedules, set in the expectation that demand would continue to increase, were out of touch with what was happening on the ground for a few weeks, but we now see a stagnation in growth there too.

Exhibit 4: U.S. residents search and book fewer flights as coronavirus cases increase

In Brazil and Mexico, two countries that have struggled with rising daily numbers of cases, tourism recovery actually seemed completely disconnected from this rise in cases. Recovery in both countries has been relatively strong over the past months. However, is the health situation now starting to catch up? Both countries showed weakening performance in the data for the week of July 19 while new coronavirus cases continued to increase. Short-term dips have happened before though, so we will keep a close eye on this.

Exhibit 5: Mexico and Brazil performance slowing down?

Importance of regulation

Russia shows that it is not just the number of cases that matters, but also government restrictions. Despite having over 5,000 new daily coronavirus cases, the country has started lifting lockdown restrictions since the beginning of June, and last week announced that flights to the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Tanzania would resume on August 1.

According to Aviasales, a Russian flight metasearch platform, interest in travel to these countries jumped after the announcement. The company saw search queries to Turkey increase by 300 percent week-over-week, to the United Kingdom by 500 percent, and to Tanzania by 7,000 percent.

The index shows a similar uptick in travel interest coming from Russia since lockdown restrictions were loosened in June. Especially hotel searches by Russian residents are up considerably, and these were further boosted by the recent announcement.

Exhibit 6: Searches are up amongst Russian residents as borders open

Moving forward, how will travel companies respond?

The situation remains extremely volatile, and above analysis shows that the health situation and government policies have a major impact on travel behavior at the moment. This does not only impact how individual travelers behave, but also has an impact on travel companies and their responses to ever-changing situations. The case of Spain made that very clear this week.

Spain saw a spike in cases in Catalonia and Aragon, resulting in the UK government taking the entire country off the list of countries exempted from its 14-day quarantine rule. This resulted in European tour operator TUI cancelling all holidays from the UK to Spain.

World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) President and CEO Gloria Guevara, however, took a more defiant tone when she said in a public statement: “WTTC believes quarantines do nothing to help restore consumer confidence at a time when we need to encourage people to return to travelling”. Jet2Holidays, a UK-based tour operator, decided to continue selling flights and packages, even though it means travelers will travel uninsured against government advice.

Each can make up their own mind on which approach is best, but there is no doubt that we will see more of these cases going forward, where governments, DMOs, travel companies, and individual travelers need to make tough decisions. Are you ready to do that?

Data Partners

We would like to thank the following partners who are collaborating with Skift Research by providing their data which shapes the Skift Recovery Index.

Amadeus is a global travel technology leader that delivers the most trusted, critical systems across the travel industry to airlines, airports, hotels, travel agents, and car rental and railway providers. Amadeus is providing insight on travel search trends and behavior for the Skift Recovery Index.

Arrivalist uses mobile location datasets to provide actionable insights on consumer behavior, competitive share, media effectiveness, and market trends, and has been tracking driving behavior of U.S. residents, which we have included in the Index.

Collinson is a global travel services business, creating traveler experiences, loyalty strategy and programs, travel insurance, and travel and medical assistance. Priority Pass is operated by Collinson and provides frequent travelers access to over 1,300 lounges, with Collinson providing aggregated customer lounge visit data for the index.

Criteo is a global technology company powering the world’s marketers with trusted and impactful advertising. The company provides indexed data from various OTA, airline, and car rental partners. Criteo provides data for airline and car rental web traffic and sales.

Duetto delivers a suite of cloud applications to simplify hospitality revenue decisions and allow hoteliers to work smarter, increasing organizational efficiency, revenue, and profitability. More than 4,000 hotel and casino resort properties in more than 60 countries have partnered to use Duetto’s applications. Duetto provides hotel bookings and cancellations data.

Hotelbeds provides over 180,000 hotels across the globe with access to high-value, complementary distribution channels that do not compete with the hotelier’s direct distribution strategy. The company provides data on hotel bookings and source market performance.

Key Data Dashboard is a provider of real-time, direct-source vacation rental data for the short-term rental sector, aggregating data sourced directly from more than 30+ reservation systems of 700+ professional property managers around the world. Key Data provides bookings, RevPAR and cancellations data for the Skift Recovery Index.

OAG collects and analyzes data about every journey, every booking, every take-off and landing, departure, and delay, totalling over 110,000 flights, 100,000 schedule changes daily and over 4 million flight status updates. OAG provides flight capacity data for the Skift Recovery Index.

RateGain helps travel and hospitality companies with cognitive revenue management, smart e-distribution, and brand engagement. RateGain supports over 250,000 hotel properties globally by providing 240 billion rate and availability updates, and powering over 30 million bookings. For the Index, RateGain provides hotel bookings and cancellation data.

Shiji Group provides software solutions and services for the hospitality, food service, retail, and entertainment industries, serving over 74,000 hotels, 200,000 restaurants and 600,000 retail outlets across the world. Shiji Group provides China hotel bookings and room night data for the Skift Recovery Index.

SimilarWeb gathers digital data from multiple sources, including first-party direct measurement, public data sources, anonymous behavioral data, and external partners. For the Index, SimilarWeb provides unique visitor data to the top 10 travel websites per country.

SiteMinder works with over 35,000 hotels as their guest acquisition platform to generate in excess of 100 million reservations worth over US$35 billion in revenue for hotels each year. SiteMinder provides hotel booking data for the Skift Recovery Index, pulled from its World Hotel Index.

Skyscanner has 100 million peak monthly active users, over 100 million app downloads, and more than 1,200 partners across flights, hotels, car rental, and more. Skyscanner’s Travel Insight product helps companies guide their COVID-19 recovery plans, and the company contributes flight search data from Travel Insight for the Skift Recovery Index.

Sojern provides digital marketing solutions for the travel industry, helping to drive direct demand for more than 10,000 hotels, attractions, tourism boards, and travel marketers. Sojern contributes flight and hotel search data for the Skift Recovery Index.

Transparent provides business intelligence serving the vacation rental industry, including insights around supply growth, demand patterns, rate changes, and property manager activities. Transparent contributes occupancy and bookings data for the Skift Recovery Index. The company draws on data from the 34 million vacation rental listings they track worldwide, in every geography.

TrustYou provides a guest feedback platform that makes listening to customers easy, powerful, and actionable. In response to the current crisis, TrustYou has put together a Travel Health Index, using hotel reviews managed through its platform as a proxy for hotel occupancy. TrustYou’s Travel Health Index is integrated in the Skift Recovery Index.

We would welcome more partners who want to join this effort, especially in the drive (car rental) and tours and activities space. Please get in touch to talk about a possible collaboration.

Data Tables