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Skyscanner Horizons: The Return of Travel

June 16, Skyscanner streamed a webinar “Skyscanner Horizons: The return of travel,” in which the company representatives together with speakers from IATA and Digital Tourism Think Tank discussed the latest industry statistics and shared their perspectives on the future of travel. In this post, you’ll find main insights from the webinar.

State of the industry

While it’s still unknown if travel will ever recover to its former state, Skyscanner’s latest statistics show positive trends in the travel niche.

  • 93% of travellers are actively planning or thinking about planning a trip, which is much bigger than in the beginning of the year.
  • 2.5M passengers for Memorial Day weekend, which shows quite a positive sentiment towards travel.
  • 330M jobs in Travel and Tourism globally.

2021 emerging trends in travel

  • Domestic recovery is in full swing with a 71% week on week (WoW) increase in flight bookings in Canada and a 15% increase in Japan.
  • The market shows signs of pent-up demand, with 616% WoW increase in flight bookings in May when Portugal was added to the UK green list and 110% increase in May flight bookings vs. previous month in key European markets (Germany, France, Spain, Italy).
  • Data shows positive week on week demand in Europe, steadily growing in the last month.

  • However, journey time remains unpredictable, with the number of days varying greatly among travelers.

  • Average trip duration is increasing, having shown some sort of predictability late last year.

  • The share of domestic and short haul searches is steadily growing, from 20% to over 40% out of total searches since May 2019.

  • The share of domestic searches differs across various regions, with the Asia-Pacific and Americas leading the way.

  • Thus, there is a 15% increase for short-haul journeys, a 5% increase for medium-haul journeys, and a 17% decrease for ultra-long haul journeys.

  • In comparison with 2019, average fares are cheaper, but still remain unpredictable.

  • Another trend is an increased interest towards smaller cities.

What it means to be traveller-first: Innovation and adaptation required in the new reality

  • A recent global sentiment survey shows an overall positive attitude among travelers, as 72% of those polled believe that things are getting better. The USA has a significantly better perspective in this regard, while Europeans still have rather mixed feelings towards travel.

  • Over half of users visiting Skyscanner are actually planning a trip, and 41% are thinking about it.

  • Skyscanner key principles in the new environment:
    • Traveller first
    • Additive solutions
    • Data driven iteration and optimization
    • Leverage unique attributes
  • Skyscanner is now focused on building traveller confidence through:
    • Surfacing information, guidance and advice. For example, users can check out what destinations are open on the live map.
      • Flexible policy filters & insurance offering.
        • Health and safety measures. Skyscanner has introduced the safety score to assess how secure a flight or hotel booking is.

Aviation, tourism & destination outlook

  • The data shows the importance of consistency and building trust with customers.
  • Increases in demand are phenomenal. Keep in mind that travel is recovering from an absolute stop.
  • The market has greatly changed, so you need to respond and react fast and with agility. Stay creative, think long-term and build on emerging opportunities for each destination.
  • The role of innovation is fundamental in the industry recovery, just like understanding and applying empathy.
  • Try to think differently about a destination or a product. For instance, the “Another Tokyo” project shows parts of the city which are surprising and unknown to most people. Find a way to understand and adapt to the shift in the state of mind and behaviour.
  • Transparency is paramount. Try to answer all questions that your consumers may have in order to build trust and confidence. Work on long-tail answers to most popular questions to make users feel confident.
  • Invest in diversifying the product. Think how to create different reasons to travel. For example, there is a change in business travel, and more and more people now prefer a nomadic lifestyle in contrast to dividing work and leisure.
  • Set ambitious goals and think about a bigger picture.
  • The pace of recovery is different across the world. While in Europe it is quite slow, North America sees travel recovering faster. However, any form of opening up for countries leads to an increase in cases, so there is still a lot of unpredictability.

Skyscanner horizons: Return of travel

  • Data demonstrates pent-up demand for leisure air travel, and you can see a recent surge in UK bookings for “green list” countries.

  • Skyscanner estimates COVID-19 long-term loss of 2 years growth. Strong rebound is expected after the removal of border travel barriers, but not full recovery. In 2021, the industry may recover up to 55% of 2019 level.

  • Airlines start to see their revenue improve in comparison to last year with North American airlines growing faster than European ones.

  • To address the situation, Skyscanner is working on a digital solution that will facilitate traveling and help people keep updated on the latest COVID rules and regulations, communicate with labs and get test results as well as manage their biometric identity and health credentials.

  • With all the latest procedures introduced, it now takes a while for passengers to get through airport control. To address capacity issues and make travel frictionless, Skyscanner is working on a contactless app that will allow travelers to speed up checking. They will also be able to make sure they’ve met the requirements of the tests uploaded and communicate the results to where needed. The app will have a directory of laboratories and allow users to safely upload and share the information. All the data will be owned and controlled by the user.
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