Let’s be clear up front -- no one knows when the COVID-19 impact will truly be behind us. In some regions and sectors of the global economy, we are seeing an uptick that shows signs of being sustainable. In others we are not. While many borders still remain closed, we are seeing signals that people are ready to travel to visit family and friends or enjoy a holiday vacation later this year. Business travel like we experienced pre-COVID is not ramping up yet, and much remains to be seen how we all engage in the business world after more than a year of being virtual.
Clearly, COVID-19 has impacted almost every industry. But, few have been as bruised as the travel, hospitality, and personal transportation sector. Through mid-March, there are signs of a recovery emerging in some parts of the world. In the US, The Wall Street Journal reported on March 15 that “airport volumes hit their highest in a year”. This follows a February report from The Guardian that holiday bookings surged triple digits after the UK announced “a roadmap out of the lockdown”.
The key word being a roadmap and we are not out of the woods by any means. The timelines on these reports are quite interesting. Some are traveling now and others have big plans to break out of our bubbles later this summer.
Over the past five weeks, we have seen a 37% increase in travel and transportation related transactions. These are online commerce transactions where travelers are paying for services or making bookings for future travel. This does not include the future payment transactions for the hotel or rental car that is reserved for a few months out. Five weeks with steady week-over-week growth is a positive sign for sure.
For this same period, we see a 192% increase in the revenue of these transactions. Further strong support that travelers are booking larger ticket items to go along with these increasing volumes.
As can be expected and in line with the current data across specific countries around the globe, we are seeing material differences in the transaction growth by region. North America is experiencing a steady increase in activity as cases decline and restrictions ease, Latin America is showing some growth but overall is mixed (peaks and valleys), while Europe remains low and flat in volume. The data is changing rapidly so the learnings and projections will as well.
Our vantage point is one of many, and we welcome the discussion on what you are seeing.
By no means is the impact of COVID-19 behind us from a business perspective and certainly not from the impact this pandemic is having on all of us and our future generations. Much of the global economy abruptly shut down a year ago, with travel, hospitality, and transportation feeling the impact most acutely. Projecting the outcome of a global pandemic is complicated and unlike nothing we have seen before. Five weeks with steady week-over-week growth is a positive signal that a recovery may be emerging.
Stay safe and each of us should stay committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19.