The air travel industry is facing unparalleled and sustained lack of demand. The impact on all of us involved with hotel and airport parking bookings has been swift and devastating. While it is hard to imagine and hard to prepare for the ongoing loss of travel demand we are experiencing, we can learn from this experience and use this crisis to better prepare for the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve been analyzing our booking data and surveying our customers to provide the following insights for our valued partners.
- Our survey respondents did express some confidence that their travel plans would happen with nearly half expecting this year’s plans to continue. The majority also expects their travel plans for next year to go as planned. Of those who have had to cancel their travel plans, 73% are waiting to rebook.
ParkSleepFly.com Booking Behavior
- Of customers who made reservations on ParkSleepFly.com during the week of April 6, most were booking weeks and months in advance. This differs from their historical booking behavior where most customers booked within 30 days of their travel date. In the week commencing 04/06/2020, 61% of bookings were for check-ins 121 days or more in advance. Ordinarily, this would make up just 6% of bookings.
- Those customers who have been booking far in advance are confident or at least hopeful that air travel will be somewhat normal later in the year. During that same week of April 6, the volume of flying passengers was less than 5% of what it was for the same week in 2019 in the US.
- The number of customers making reservations within 30 days of their travel dates hit rock bottom in early April. In the week commencing 04/06/2020, just 12% of reservations were for check-ins within 30 days of reservation. Before COVID-19 it would average about 66% of total reservations.
- Since mid-April, and even while confirmed US cases were increasing, the booking behaviors have gradually reverted back in the direction of more typical behavior. More customers have been booking in the short and medium-term again, though a much higher than normal percentage of reservations are still being booked 121 days or more in advance. In the week commencing 05/04/2020, those booking 121 days or further in advance make up 26% of reservations, down from a peak of 61% in the week commencing 04/06/2020.
Embracing and Promoting Good Hygiene Standards is Essential
- For the foreseeable future, travelers want to know that precautions are in place, that they are safe, and that they are not going to catch COVID-19 or contribute to lengthening the pandemic as a result of a lack of safety precautions.
- We have recently enabled an ‘additional safety measures’ feature on our website. It will appear to website visitors in search results and on your product page. This feature provides potential customers with information about YOUR precautions and helps provide you with more visibility on our website, generating sales for you. We encourage all our parking lot partners to visit the ParkSleepFly extranet and add your safety information. We anticipate using this as a contributing ranking factor in our search results. 80% of respondents cited hygiene as the most important factor in deciding where and how to travel.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Rideshare—Good News for Hotel + Parking Packages?
- As with the hotel and airport parking industry, rideshare has been hit hard in recent months. Factors such as fear around hygiene standards, vehicle sanitization, how many and which people have been in the same vehicle that day, together with close proximity to the driver, make taking an Uber or Lyft to the airport a much less attractive proposition than it used to be. Only 7% of our respondents said they would be very comfortable using rideshare. This could increase the opportunity for our parking partners to step in as a superior option as flights increase.
How to Encourage Travel Responsibly?
- Within the hotel and airport parking industry, we can encourage travel through transparent and flexible refund and cancellation policies. At ParkSleepFly.com, we’re doing our part to make adjustments and put our customers at ease.
- Hotels and parking lots should maintain and promote good hygiene standards to reduce the risk of travel and reassure customers about the safety of travel.