Covid-19 Travel Trends Uncovered


Back in 2019 who would’ve guessed that all our travel plans were about to go down the drain because of a global pandemic? Travel as we knew it, is over. With strict regulations in force, questions are being asked, such as:

  • Where can I travel safely?
  • How can I travel?
  • Will my vacation be more expensive than usual?

On our search for answers, we investigated the comment sections of various YouTube videos that address this exact question “What will travel after Covid-19 look like?” The analysis includes over 3600 comments collected from 8 different videos spanning from April to late June.

How do Travelers Feel towards post Covid19 Travel?

In previous investigations the Symanto Mood Index (SMI) helped us to understand what drives the FMCG industry and how consumers are feeling about certain products or brands. Here in this study we see the travel industry score an SMI of 18, which is 2 points lower than the FMCG industry, reflecting a lower positive affection to travel than consumer goods during lockdown.

Looking at the user’s emotions, people share more negativity than positivity to traveling post-covid. While only 33% of detected posts with emotion include Love and Joy, 66% of postings express Anger and Sadness. Where does that overwhelming amount of negative feelings come from? The SMI chart uncovers what causes it to decrease. The most concern-causing categories are:

  • Regulations
  • Transport
  • Travelers

Basic fear still exists whether it is safe to travel by plane due to coronavirus and there also is a vivid discussion around other travelers and possible ways of transportation. The most frequently mentioned transport has been flight travel with more than 80% of mentions.

When it comes to flight travel, the issue which concerns travellers most outside of safety is that flight tickets might become too expensive, since Airlines need to enforce social distancing measures. From the client perspective, this could be achieved by using bigger planes. However, more than half of the users who left comments with negative sentiment in relation to flight travel also express that they will avoid flying under these regulations and the current situation.

Emotional Travelers are more Positive than Rational Travelers

Our Symanto platform makes it possible to categorize the authors into two consumer profiles: emotional travelers & rational travelers. While emotional ones take decisions based on their feelings and intuition, the rational traveler need facts, logic, and reason.

Overall, there are far more emotional consumers with 61% of the total than rational consumers at 39%. And while emotional consumers are more positive towards travelling in 2020, the rational segment seems to be careful with a larger proportion of negative sentiment. 

Rational consumers:

Emotional consumers:

When looking into the preferences of said consumers, emotional travelers frequently express the terms “Love” or “Good” to describe certain features. Rational travelers speak in a more reserved and fact-oriented manner by articulating sentiment terms such as “well” or “safe”. Rational Travelers think safety first

One can also see a reasonable difference between the segments in topics of interest.

For instance, emotional travelers tend to talk a lot more about their desired destinations and tend to know where they want to go to. Whereas rational consumers directly focus on the consequences which they will probably face during their journey. Safety also seems to be a much more relevant topic to rational consumer as it has not been satisfactorily addressed in the current communication of airlines, which makes them more negative towards any potential journey. Saying this, unsurprisingly safety remains an important topic for all consumers no matter if rational or emotional.

For the emotional segment, Albania is the destination with the highest percentage of positive sentiment with Poland and Croatia not coming far behind. We also see the difference how emotional consumers talk about their destination in comparison to rational ones.

Emotional: I loved albania ! its such a hidden gem with amazing beaches , friendly people and beautiful nature

Rational: Thailand is much safer and cheaper than the UK…

For the rational users, they speak more about the transport itself. By far the strongest discussion is still flight travel and includes simple mentions of desirable airlines to different classes and cabin layouts. Both segments are also very concerned about other travelers. For example:

Rational: This seating config looks ok to me , i like an empty seat next to me , and my preferred seat is a window one , second choice would be an isle seat , the A380 would be good choice for social distancing ,. but whats the drill for when you leave your seat to go to the toilet ?…

Emotional: Great , now first class passengers and economy class passengers will eat from a pre-pack meal no fancy presentation nothing fancy about first class product anymore

Takeaways for the Tourism Industry

One point unites all travelers: They still want to travel! However, to get on a journey both segments need different aspects to be guaranteed.

While tourism companies now know that there are presumably more emotional customers, they should approach them in a way that is most satisfactory to them. For example, the communication should clarify where consumers can travel and focus on specific desirable destinations. While communicating about the destinations, additional focus should be on addressing their safety concerns, by addressing why it is safe to travel.

Rational consumers, on the other hand, should be approached differently. They may only reflect 39% of travelers but getting more rational consumers on a plane can have a good impact for the tourism industry. To accomplish such, safety concepts should be the focus of communication. Safety measures and regulations must be backed with scientific facts, proof from practice, and all in all take away the concerns instead of leaving the customer with open questions.

If both segments are approached in a way that fits best for them, we could also trace future developments on basis of the SMI. We could even apply additional AI modules to extract insights on gender and age of travelers, but even with these comparably low efforts, the current consumer perception towards tourism begins to take shape.

If you’re interested in an investigation on your specific use case or any of our AI capabilities, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll be more than happy to walk you through our understanding of text analytics and the latest use cases of artificial intelligence.

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