The Impact of COVID-19 on the Online Travel Industry

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by Seth Borko + Skift Team - Apr 2020

Skift Research Take

The online travel industry is marginally better positioned to deal with this current outbreak than many of their suppliers in the hotel and airline industry. But the damage is only getting worse. It will still be severe and long-lasting.

Report Overview

Online travel has lived through two past recessions – the tech bubble crash and the global financial crisis – but it has never seen anything like this outbreak before. Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, warned that this current crisis is worse than all previous “major” disruptions combined.

This report considers how online travel is being impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at both the industry and individual company level. We believe that the largest seven public online travel agencies will lose at least $11.5 billion in revenue this year due to the virus. The impact could even go higher, potentially as much as $20 billion in missed revenue.

We also look across the globe different business models to understand how companies differ from each other. Chinese OTAs are seeing a small bounceback in March while U.S. and European OTAs continue to see their business decline. We also find some signs that businesses which cater to the short-term rentals and airline segments are outperforming the hotel business.

Finally this report analyzes public statements made by the largest three online travel agencies in the world, Booking Holdings, Expedia Group, and Trip.com. We break down and quantify what those management teams have said specifically about COVID-19.

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