COVID-19 Analysis – Los Angeles & Southern United States, Seattle Market Update
- Posted by Brett Perry
- On April 15, 2020
The dust has somewhat settled and if you haven’t already, it is time to implement recovery strategies for your hotel. At Screen Pilot, we are digging into the hardest hit areas to create a clearer picture for these markets. In moments where everything seems bleak, we want to highlight the windows of opportunity that still exist in the hospitality industry. This week we will hone in on Los Angeles, CA and the Southern Region of the United States. There is also an exciting update to last week’s Seattle dive.
Featured Market: Los Angeles
As Coronavirus initially moved through the West Coast, Los Angeles hotels were hit hard with closures and decreasing occupancy. California had it the worst in terms of hotel employment, according to the L.A. Times. With the virus, came a drastic decrease in hotel-related searches for Los Angeles. Google Trends showed a large drop-off at the start of March for the term, “Los Angeles Hotels.” The Search Interest* moved from a peak of 100 to the low twenties by mid-March.
*Google Trends Search Interest is a scale of 1-100, measuring the popularity of a specific search term within a certain timeframe.
Following the initial decline, the last couple weeks have shown an uptick in interest for the same term. There is also an increase in popularity for “Los Angeles travel.” Despite a recent dip in the L.A. travel search, the past seven days has seen these two searches gain firm footing and trend in the right direction.
In other encouraging news, California is one of the first states to see a sustained drop in daily cases across seven days. Using data from the New York Times, we have seen California maintain a decrease in average daily cases. Why is this encouraging? It implies the virus is being contained across the state and CA is one of the first states to see this sustained drop. Being on the forefront of these trends is crucial when developing recovery strategies. By the time states open back up, which may still be awhile, it will be the result of multiple weeks of a continued drop in cases and deaths. Knowing when this trend begins means you can get a jumpstart on messaging and media efforts.
There is still some time until Los Angeles can open up or deemed safe to visit. The stay-at-home order is still in place and some counties are enforcing even stricter guidelines. The bright side, the data on confirmed cases implies this is working. We are seeing continued interest for L.A. hotels on Google Trends and coupling that with a decrease in cases is certainly a win in these times. Now, where do you look when you start developing your recovery plan? Last week, we showed when people are looking to travel to the West Coast. We will soon be publishing data that shows where these people are searching from. Using shopping behavior is a great start when forecasting your marketing efforts.
Featured Region: Southern United States
The Southern states haven’t been hit as hard as some of their neighbors on the West Coast. However, many cities in the South are huge travel destinations and are reeling from the spread of COVID-19. This isn’t to say all prospective travel to the area has ceased. Our proprietary data highlights that in fact, thousands of individuals are looking to travel to the South in the near future.
Here at Screen Pilot, we are analyzing shopping behavior by capturing the dates when users input them into a booking engine. This allows us to develop shopping windows and determine the most popular months for potential travel to a specific region. The South shows that more than half of individuals are looking for travel at least three months out. This aligns with the numbers that inform us July is currently the most popular month that users are hoping to visit the South.
Shopping Window by Month
The graph below contains the most popular months that prospective travelers are shopping for hotels in the South. This tells us exactly when users are hoping to travel again. As shown, July of this year is gaining the most traction. Users are expecting, or hoping, things will be somewhat back to normal by the time summer rolls around. Keeping this in mind, once your hotel has solid footing, you can start developing digital assets and media plans that prop up the summer season.
It is important to know the timeframe in which users are basing their shopping behavior. Obtaining this information can inform the flight of marketing campaigns and messaging. As the cases in the country decline, the shopping window will hopefully begin to shrink. For now, prospective travelers are shopping 90+ days out when looking at hotels in the the South. This aligns with the graph above and tells us that individuals are hoping to travel in the summer and fall of this year. Preparing your hotel for this sort of shopping behavior can pay dividends when the shopping turns into purchasing.
Last week, we saw COVID-19 cases in Washington start to settle, but it was too early to determine if the trend would continue. After another week of data, there is a sustained decrease in confirmed cases and deaths for the state of Washington. The rolling average from the last 7 days continues to trend in the right direction as the state is down 26%. It is good news for the Seattle market since it was one of the first large cities to be hit in the United States. We are also keeping an eye on shopping behavior in the Pacific Northwest and hope to see more people shopping for travel as the cases go down.