COVID-19 Analysis – Seattle & West Coast
- Posted by Brett Perry
- On April 7, 2020
With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise and some areas in the U.S. expected to hit “peak resource usage” this week, there is elevated concern regarding the impact on the travel industry. Just last week, AdWeek announced paid advertising for airlines and cruises dropped by 90% in March. With any major world event, it is important to take a step back and analyze the trends in order to highlight windows of opportunity. Forecasting coronavirus is a tall task, but identifying patterns and creating a proper recovery strategy is the best way to take control of the situation.
Each week, we’ll be diving into a specific market and region in order to better understand the impact of COVID-19 – With a focus on the larger markets in the United States.
Featured Market: Seattle
Seattle was one of the first and hardest-hit areas in the nation and as a result, related searches took a sharp nosedive at the beginning of March, according to Google Trends Search Interest*. However, the data suggests users are still interested in “Seattle Hotels” as the average Search Interest for the last week held at 33, out of a max 100. If you need more information on how this is measured, check out our tips on Google Trends.While the search volume is much lower than the market is accustomed to, the firm trend is a good sign that user demand still exists in the interim. When the virus begins to recede in the area, we hope to see an uptick in the search interest for “Seattle hotels” as more users begin to look for availability. During peak season, the search interest is usually in the 80-100 range on a daily basis.
*Google Trends Search Interest is a scale of 1-100, measuring the popularity of a specific search term within a certain timeframe.
The growth of COVID-19 cases in Washington State continues to rise on a cumulative basis. When the virus continues to swell in one area, it is a concerning trend and often met with a similar analysis. It is important to pay attention to the trend of daily cases. That is, how many cases are being reported from one day to the next. A sustained drop in daily cases is a promising signal for any state. Washington saw their current peak of daily case change on April 2nd, but we can’t assume it will flatten out. The volume of daily change has settled since the peak, but any indication of recovery will need to see that trend continue for 3-5 days. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington indicates April 11th as the date of peak resource usage in the state of Washington and this is something to keep an eye on along with the graph below.
As in most other markets, Seattle continues the fight against COVID-19 by instituting proper stay-at-home measures. Confirmed cases continue to rise, but the Search Interest remains firm and indicates demand for the Seattle area still exists. While we understand this isn’t directly related to bookings in the moment, the fact that individuals are performing searches is a good sign when developing recovery efforts. We will be locked into the Seattle Market and soon be rolling out Booking Window Availability data for the Pacific Northwest Region. This analysis will allow us to determine what month people are looking to stay in the area and how many days out they are shopping.
Featured Region: West Coast
The West Coast contains some of the highest-impacted markets in the country with places like Los Angeles and San Francisco seeing major hotel closures and decreasing revenue. Despite these hurdles, our data shows some users are still interested in planning travel to the West Coast. Segments of people looking for travel still exists in these times, the key is to focus on those user groups and develop proper recovery strategies and messaging to guide their path.
We are capturing the action when a users inputs a date into the booking engine and measuring that against the day they were searching. As a result, we determined the most popular months users are looking to travel to the West Coast. The data also allows us to aggregate the shopping window to analyze timeframes in which users are shopping for West Coast travel. There are two main groups in this analysis — People shopping within 1-30 days and others looking to travel 90+ days out. Individuals are especially focusing on the months of April, May and June. These numbers don’t directly reflect bookings, but it helps determine shopping patterns during a crisis.
Shopping Window by Month
It is important to understand when people are looking to travel again. Obviously, these dates will shift as the spread of the virus evolves, but it is crucial to keep tabs on what users are currently doing in the travel space. The graph below contains the most popular months that prospective travelers are shopping for on the West Coast.
Along with the specific months, it is important to know how many days out users are looking to travel again. The West Coast has two big groups of users that are either shopping within 30 days or expanding their timeframe to 90+ days out. Measuring the shopping window is important when determining how to get back into the market for messaging and advertising. If we can pinpoint the exact timeframe users are looking to travel again, then advertising efforts can be geared towards targeting those specific groups. For example, if people want to come to the West Coast at least 90+ days out, Hotels can start planning summer and fall messaging f0r digital assets that coincide with search behavior. It may feel early, but properties have to start thinking ahead in order to gain an edge.