Travel & Tourism Series: How Consumer Travel Has Changed Due to COVID-19

By: Kaitlin Williams, Account Director

COVID-19 has upended the Travel & Tourism industry. Most people are cancelling trips and avoiding travel for the foreseeable future. Over the course of a seven-part series, we’ll dive into the intricacies of Travel & Tourism marketing to help brands navigate the current highly complex landscape. Part I, below, explores the COVID-19 consumer trends currently impacting this industry. 

Trend #1: Cancellations are slowing 

The Travel sector hit the peak of cancelled bookings in the past several weeks, according to survey data. Cancellations are expected to slow in the coming weeks. 

Trend #2Nearly half of consumers anticipate life will return to normal in Summer 2020 

IPSOS data shows that nearly 50% of people believe that life will return to normal by or during summer 2020. 


Trend #3Three types of consumer will return to travel at different times 

  • Impatient: many people are impatient to return to normal life. This subset of traveler will be the first to book vacations, no incentive required. 
  • Wait-andsee: this segment is patiently waiting to fully understand the impact and potential risk before traveling. Even after travel is deemed safe, they will likely require offers to entice them out of the house. 
  • Concerned: this last consumer group is the most compliant with social distancing as they are concerned for the vulnerable and weak. They will be the last to return to travel, even as travel restrictions lift and a return to normalcy begins. 

Trend #4: When travel reopens, people will stay closer to home 

When people start making travel plans again, they are more likely to stay close to home and are showing more hesitation about traveling outside of the United States, according to eMarketer. Looking at specific areas of international travel, US adults say they will be less likely to travel to Asia (58%) and Europe (51%). 


These trends are rapidly changing as cities, states/provinces, and countries begin to slowly open and attempt to return to normal life. As more details arise, we’ll provide updates on the latest shifts in consumer behavior. 

Part II, Travel & Tourism Marketing during COVID-19, will detail specific emerging media trends and messaging best practices brands can incorporate to address the consumer trends discussed above. Look out for Part II next week.  

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