Stay22 Mythbusters: How will patrons travel to events in the future?

How has COVID-19, the lockdown and social distance norms affected the patrons’ travel habits? We can expect that the circumstances of 2020 have had at least some level of impact on the perception of travel, especially concerning events. Due to the nature of Stay22’s solution and the data that the interactive maps bring, gathered from around the world, we now have a better understanding of how people will be approaching travel in a post-COVID-19 world.

As of now, it’s no mystery that there isn’t much interest in traveling for an event today:

alt text

This doesn’t mean that people have given up on event travel. All it shows is that with movement and transportation restrictions still in place, and very few events happening, there is less ability for event-based travel. This does not, however, reflect a lack of interest or intention to travel from the patron.

In a recent webinar, our Product Owner Kevin Sauvageau analyzed the Stay22 data about popular travel hypotheses to see which ones are true and which ones are false.

Travel Hypotheses:

  • Travel will become more local than before.

  • Hotels will be more popular that Rentals/Airbnb

  • Patrons will most likely drive rather than fly to their event

  • This makes for longer stays in town

How far are people willing to travel?

alt text

The first question you may want to ask to test the confidence of patrons for travel is: how far are they willing to travel. After 2-3 months of lockdown, we can expect that people may want to get out of the house. However, people may be nervous to go to train stations or airports, as well as travel to other countries where there may be a risk of being infected or end up stranded. Anything that can put them in contact with crowds or groups of people for extended periods. By this logic, we can assume that the average traveler will not want to go far.

Let’s look at the stats comparing the distance from venue/destination pre and post COVID19:

  • Short-range (0-100 km): Short-range travel hasn’t experienced a drastic rise if anything we have seen a small decrease. The only exception Stay22 has seen is a higher level of bookings for accommodations within a 0-25km radius (pre-COVID 40%, post-COVID 48%). This is probably due to first-responders who didn’t want to infect their families and therefore booked close-to-work accommodation.

  • Medium-range (0-500km): Much like short-range travel, destinations that were under 500km didn’t experience any change from before the lockdown. Whilst local travel may come back before long-distance travel, there doesn’t seem to be a drastic change in behavior from the patron.

  • Long-range (0-4000+ km): Shockingly, the only large spike in bookings have been for long-distance travel of 4000km and up. They have experienced an increase from 6% to 16%. Most travels this length usually include flying over an ocean. This reflects the very resilient nature of certain “hardcore” event-goers who actively travel for shows. They may have felt handcuffed due to COVID-19 but now seem hopeful of events returning and are eager to be allowed to cross a lot of kilometers to get to them.

Hypothesis: Travel will become more local than before.

Conclusion: FALSE*

Based on the distance we can also conclude what type of transportation people should expect to use. For short to mid-range travel, you can expect people to use a car to reach their destination. Destinations over 4000km? We’re willing to go on a limb here and say that they won’t exactly be driving to get there, but taking a plane instead.

Hypothesis: Patrons will most likely drive rather than fly to their event

Conclusion: FALSE*

*Disclaimer: As mentioned above, this conclusion is based on a spike in long-distance travel that shows patrons haven’t discarded planes as a form of travel. In other words, the intention to travel long distances for events is still very much alive, the issue is that it is simply not possible right now. However, you can still expect regional travel to dominate for now, simply because there isn’t much of an alternative.

What type of accommodations are people looking for?

alt text

When event-goers travel, what are they looking for? There can be several factors that influence this decision. Recently hygiene and cancellation policies could be some of the most influential reasons for booking accommodation.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a shift towards hotels following COVID-19. Patrons now favor hotels over rentals/Airbnb’s, with hotel bookings experiencing a rise of 44% whilst rentals bookings on the other hand lose 33%. You can explore more information about this in our previous article on user booking habits.

Hypothesis: Hotels will be more popular than Rentals/Airbnb with travelers going to events in urban centers.

Conclusion: True*

*Disclaimer: This was true when the data was gathered: Sept 1st, 2019 to May 15th, 2020, using March 15th as the divider between pre & post-COVID. Note that the opposite is also true (rentals are on the rise) for regional travel (not event-travel), and this trend reflects city citizens escaping urban centers for the countryside.

When will they travel and for how long?

In a pre-COVID world, the average time spent between booking the accommodation and checking in was 2 months (65 days). Now, following the lockdown, we see that the general traveler is more confident to book with a longer time frame than before:

Hotels have seen the biggest shift, going from 2 months to 5 months wait between booking and checking in This could mean that travelers are planning ahead of the recovery and hoping for borders to open and remain open.

Does this mean people will stay longer in a place they are renting? Yes, people are willing to stay longer in their chosen accommodation, going from a 2-nights stay to a 5-night stay. Rentals experienced the biggest increase in the length of stay by 50%.

Hypothesis: This makes for longer stays in town

Conclusion: TRUE

alt text

In conclusion, our data would suggest that patron intent to travel has NOT drastically changed. What has changed is that, for the time being, there aren’t many events to attend, and with travel limitations, the patron’s ability to do so is restricted.

To summarize it in one sentence: the demand is there, but supply isn’t.

It’s important to keep in mind that these conclusions come from the data provided by Stay22 maps which, due to COVID-19 and the lockdown, experienced a decline in interactions meaning the data sample size is smaller. However, if you would like to hear a more in-depth analysis of the data from our Product Owner Kevin Sauvageau, check out this webinar.