Google has highlighted three trends that it is seeing in the travel sector, ten months into the outbreak of the coronavirus.
While not surprising, they serve as confirmation of how consumers are feeling and behaving when it comes to their ability (or not) to travel.
Laura-Marie Arens, Google’s head of vertical travel search, APAC, says the company saw search travel queries decline to a third of normal levels in March and April, but they began to recover in May.
Speaking during the WebinTravel Travel Zero.0 virtual event this week, she says that the kind of search queries it saw were very different for locations and attractions, compared to those about COVID-19 news and local restrictions.
Highlighting the first trend, Arens says that travelers are very uncertain and an internal study in July revealed 84% of searches were regarding border closures, travel bans and entrance requirements.
The second trend is around health and safety, with Google conducting a study across the Asia Pacific region in August, which revealed that risk of infection from the virus remained prominent when it came to travel sentiment.
She also confirms the domestic travel trend, highlighted by many market intelligence companies in recent months, saying that consumers are choosing to opt for local and to less crowded destinations.
A Google consumer study from August shows that almost a third of consumers are planning to travel domestically in the next six months.
Asked the same question on international travel, if restrictions lift, less than 10% say they will travel in the next six months.
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Private accommodation are also recovering faster than other hospitality types globally, Arens claims.
“Vacation rental is perceived safer, easier to practice social distancing and you can manage your own food.”
There some exceptions, he says, with Chinese consumers believing hotels as safer, only 12% seeing rentals in the same way.
Arens also touches on Google’s response to current trends such as its travel advisories on restrictions and how regions are picking up in terms of flights, hotels and number of cases.
She adds that the company has changed its user interface to emphasize cancellation policies for bookings and is also working with partners to surface details of hygiene initiatives.
Google also created a specific search for vacation rentals where previously it was blended with other accommodation.