Lockdowns and other restrictions have put leisure travel on indefinite hold, dramatically changing traffic to destination websites and how DMOs are responding through digital marketing.

Check here for the latest data and analysis on organic website traffic, traffic driven by paid media, changes in DMO digital marketing spending and other indicators of impact on leisure travel.  

Our initial reporting compares 2019 and 2020 Google Analytics data for 200 DMO websites across North America. We look at web traffic overall and separated into organic traffic vs. traffic driven by paid media ("paid traffic").

 

DMO Web Traffic Impact

The following charts update daily using our sample set of 200 DMOs. Depending on your connection speed, it may take several seconds for the data to load.

Overall Website Traffic

 

Latest Update: January 25 - DMO web sessions remain as sluggish as they have been since the end of the holidays. All sessions have been down 30-35% year over year most days over the past two weeks, and the trend is flat. The drop has come from site users at drive and local distances, where performance has been worse over the past few weeks; fly-market site usage has been hovering at -30% each day since November, which at least represents stasis rather than decline. One bright spot is the Northeastern US, which has had positive growth in overall sessions for roughly a week thanks to continued paid search investment.

Organic Website Traffic

2020 traffic first dipped below 2019 levels on February 27 and appear to have stabilized down 64% year over year.

 

Latest Update: January 25 - While organic search has been performing better than the average channel, it's still posting daily YoY losses of about -30% all month. Within this segment, local site usage has deteriorated badly to levels last seen in July, while drive users are near their December levels in terms of YoY growth. Fly market users have come in between the two, just a little below drive markets by this measure. This trend suggests that sites are mostly being used for long-term planning right now as people look forward to the vaccine spreading everywhere. No regions are putting up more organic search sessions than they were last year, but the Northeast is close, down less than 5% yesterday.

Paid Website Traffic

2020 traffic first dipped below 2019 levels on March 10 and appear to have stabilized down 64% year over year.

 

Paid Traffic1 is limited to channels that can be clearly identified as paid sources by Google Analytics. These channels include paid search, display ads and other paid advertising.

 

Latest Update: January 25 - As ever, paid search sessions are losing more each day than other channels, but the gap is close. The balance has shifted definitively toward fly-market users in the past couple of weeks, with that segment consistently outperforming local users for the first time since the summer. Drive market users remain closest to last year's levels. The Northeast has seen heavy investment in paid search over the past couple of weeks, up 25-100% each day over last year, but other regions are holding back.

Overall Website Traffic - Map View

See how your destination's YTD traffic growth compares to your region, or other regions in North America

 

Paid Traffic1 is limited to channels that can be clearly identified as paid sources by Google Analytics. These channels include paid search, display ads and other paid advertising.

Latest Update: November 30 - Paid search sessions, after hitting a trough in YoY growth a week ago (below -40%), have rebounded to the -25% range, ahead of all session growth. The increase is driven largely by the South, where fly-market spend is as high as it has been since the shutdown. In turn, fly markets overall have risen from the -50% range to something more like the -25% that drive markets have been running at. It's good to see DMOs demonstrating some faith in the future with their paid search budget allocations in this manner.

 

Destination
Booking Trends

The following charts are updated weekly and use a sample set of more than 230 destinations. Depending on your connection speed, it may take several seconds for the data to load.

Lodging Searches

 

After a steep decline that began at the end of February, daily searches bottomed out on April 4, showing an 85% decline in daily searches. Since then, searches have increased and bounced back, reaching a 9.8% YOY increase in June, a 5.9% increase in July, a 17.5% increase in August, a 45% increase in September, a 24% increase in October, an 11% increase in November and 4% increase in December. As of January 2021, there is 18% in searches YOY.

Lodging Referrals

 

March 20 showed an 81% decrease in daily referrals YOY. Since March 20, referrals have stabilized and have increased by 1,136% through early June. May showed a 1.8% increase in referrals YOY, June had a 63% increase YOY, July a 44% increase, August a 63% increase, September a 86% increase, October a 55% increase, November had a 30.5% increase, and December had a 24.3% increase. As of January 2021, there is a 9% increase in referrals YOY.

Booking Window

 

As searches and referrals have been impacted, so has the booking window. On February 28, visitors searched 91 days out on average, which quickly declined to 60 days out on March 13, signaling visitors may have been rushing to book something sooner. That changed through April 5, when people started looking at trips 122 days out and searching for trips around early August. Since April 5, the booking window has been shortening. Most travelers in June were looking at trips targeting the end of July, and in July, most travelers looked at trips targeting the second half of August. September, October, November, and December show an average booking window of 65 days in 2020 compared to 82 days in 2019.

Length of Stay

 

The length of stay has also been impacted. March showed an average length of stay of 4.4 days compared to 4.1 days for the previous year - a 7% longer stay. April showed a 17% increase YOY, May showed a 10% increase YOY, June showed a 7.5% increase YOY, and July showed a 7.6% longer stay YOY. The longer stay trend started to shift in August, where the length of stay remained similar YOY. September, October, November, and December continue to show a similar length of stay for 2020 and 2019.

 

Announcements

Our year-to-date analysis shows three dates as significant inflection points for DMO web traffic:

  • February 26
    • White House holds first press briefing on the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • March 11
    • WHO declares novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
    • White House announces restrictions on travel from Europe.
  • March 13
    • The United States declares a national emergency.
       


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