We all know that COVID-19 has impacted the way people travel, but how specifically? If we look at locations and booking habits for fall and winter, a lot has changed since last year: travelers stick to their borders, book fewer tours, spend less money, and book more at the last minute. But something remains unchanged: seasonality. Travelers want to keep enjoying their time off and book experiences during holidays in October and December. 

We’ve analyzed data relating to booking trends of travelers from both Europe and the US. Local partners can use this analysis to gain insights on how to best adapt their products and businesses in these unchartered times.

European travelers are spending on average 25% less on experiences in 2020 vs 2019, while American travelers spend 18% more

According to an international consumer survey we ran earlier this year, economic concerns have driven travelers to take a deal-conscious approach to spending on travel. Our data analysis confirms the trend we identified in our survey. The table below shows that European travelers have reduced their spending on experiences in 2020 vs 2019.

Travelers who save the most in 2020 vs 2019 

Country Ranking20192020Difference year-over-year
1. Spain125€86€-31%
2. Germany140€96€-31%
3. Italy126€96€-24%
4. UK122€94€-23%
5. France128€112€-13%
6. United States161€190€+18%

Spanish and German travelers are reducing their spending on experiences the most this year (-31%), while French (-13%) travelers are reducing their spending the least. Americans have increased their spending (+18%) due to the relatively higher cost of experiences in their own country (which trend toward day trips and outdoor activities) and limitations on travel to Europe. 

In absolute numbers, Spanish and British travelers are spending the least on experiences (an average of 86€ and 94€ in the periods we analyzed). Americans spend the most on average (190€), followed by the French (111€), Italians and Germans (96€). 

If we look at how many experiences travelers are willing to book, overall they are booking fewer tours this year, though the observed decrease is only minor (-4.2%).

Travelers who book fewer tours in 2020 vs 2019 

Country Ranking20192020Difference
1. Germany1.221.15-5.3%
2. UK1.161.10-5.1%
3. Italy1.141.09-4.2%
4. France1.171.12-4.0%
5. Spain1.091.05-3.6%
6. United States1.131.10-3.2%

Germans have scaled back their experiences the most this year (-5.3%), followed by the British and Italians. Americans have reduced the frequency of their experience bookings the least this year compared with their 2019 travel habits (-3.2%).

TIP: Offer discounts and special offers to encourage customers to book experiences this year.  

Seasonality remains unchanged but travelers are booking closer to their departure date 

The pandemic has created hesitation and makes it harder for travelers to know where to go and when to book. This uncertainty incentivizes travelers to book more last-minute.

We looked at the bookings made in the summer for travels between September and December. In 2019, travelers booked on average 42 days before the activity date. This year, it is slightly closer to their departure date at 39 days (-6.5%).

Travelers who book the most in advance in 2020 vs 2019

Country Ranking20192020Difference
1. UK44440%
2. Italy3735-4%
3. France4241-4%
4. Spain3733-9%
5. Germany4742-11%
6. United States4439-11%

American, Germans, and Spanish travelers book closer to their travel dates this year vs 2019, while British travelers continue to book about as far in advance as they did last year. 

If we look at the absolute numbers, German travelers were the ones booking the most in advance in 2019 at 47 days in advance. In 2020, British travelers are the ones booking the most in advance at 44 days ahead of time. 

TIP: Be sure to have a flexible cancellation policy in place so that consumers are comfortable when booking and have the possibility to change plans last-minute. 

If we look at seasonality, there is no big weekly shift between 2020 and 2019. The pandemic does not impact when people want to do experiences. The busy months are still October (particularly during weeks 41-44, which are the school holidays) and December, with the festive period and end of the year festivities (weeks 51-52).

TIP: We recommend reducing your activities’ cut-off time to 24 hours or less — this will allow you to accept last-minute bookings and capture those “wait-and-see” travelers.

Destinations: the majority of travelers stay in their own country

Until the end of the year, many travelers in Europe and in the US have decided to visit places within their borders or to explore places abroad that are easily reachable by ground transportation. American, German, Spanish, and Italian travelers play it safe and discover local treasures, while French and British travelers are slightly more willing to travel across borders. 

Looking at the top 5 places for American travelers, they are booking nature and outdoor activities. They were interested in European sites last year but, because of travel restrictions, they are curious to explore National Parks in their own country in 2020.

The most popular points of interest in 2019 for American travelers

1ColosseumItaly
2Sagrada FamiliaSpain
3Last SupperItaly
4Sistine ChapelItaly
5OiaGreece

The most popular points of interest in 2020 for American travelers

1Grand Teton National ParkUnited States
2Antelope CanyonUnited States
3Grand CanyonUnited States
4Georgia AquariumUnited States
5Yellowstone National ParkUnited States

The same local trend is observed with German travelers: the top 5 are located in Germany in cities such as Hamburg, Berlin, and Dresden. 

The most popular points of interest in 2019 for German Travelers

1Burj KhalifaUAE
2ColosseumItaly
3ReichstagGermany
4Warner Bros. Studio LondonUK
5Sistine ChapelItaly

The most popular points of interest in 2020 for German Travelers

1SpeicherstadtGermany
2SemperoperGermany
3Spree RiverGermany
4ReichstagGermany
5ReeperbahnGermany

Like American and German travelers, Italians are exploring within their borders. No points of interest were located in Italy in 2019 — this has changed this year: only places within Italy, such as the Sistine Chapel in Rome or Pompeii near Naples, are popular.

The most popular points of interest in 2019 for Italian Travelers

1Warner Bros.Studio LondonUK
2Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-BirkenauPoland
3Louvre MuseumFrance
4Van Gogh MuseumNetherlands
5Disneyland ParisFrance

The most popular points of interest in 2020 for Italian Travelers

1Sistine ChapelItaly
2Uffizi GalleryItaly
3PompeiiItaly
4Mount EtnaItaly
5Maddalena ArchipelagoItaly

The same also applies to Spanish travelers. The Caminito del Rey and the Alhambra remain must-sees for Spanish travelers, but additional Spanish locations have gained popularity in 2020. A staycation in Spain is currently the most popular choice for Spaniards.

The most popular points of interest in 2019 for Spanish Travelers

1Caminito del ReySpain
2AlhambraSpain
3ColosseumItaly
4Sistine ChapelItaly
5Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-BirkenauPoland

The most popular points of interest in 2020 for Spanish Travelers

1Caminito del ReySpain
2AlhambraSpain
3Nasrid PalacesSpain
4TenerifeSpain
5Mosque-Cathedral of CordobaSpain

British and French travelers are more open to crossing borders

Though the Memorial Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau remains a must-see for British travelers, UK locations have gained some popularity. This is especially true in Scotland, as both the Loch Ness and the Edinburgh Vaults are in the top 5 for 2020.

The most popular points of interest in 2019 for British Travelers

1Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-BirkenauPoland
2ColosseumItaly
3Burj KhalifaUAE
4ChernobylUkraine
5Sistine ChapelItaly

The most popular points of interest in 2020 for British Travelers

1Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-BirkenauPoland
2Edinburgh VaultsUK
3Loch NessUK
4Sistine ChapelItaly
5Up at the O2UK

The top 5 locations booked by French travelers in 2019 were not in France. This has changed in 2020 as the Scandola Nature Reserve in Corsica and the Palace of Versailles have risen in the rankings.

The most popular points of interest in 2019 for French Travelers

1Warner Bros.Studio LondonUK
2Sistine ChapelItaly
3ColosseumItaly
4Alcázar of SevilleSpain
5Burj KhalifaUAE

The most popular points of interest in 2020 for French Travelers

1Scandola Nature ReserveFrance
2Sistine ChapelItaly
3Warner Bros.Studio LondonUK
4Palace of VersaillesFrance
5Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-BirkenauPoland

TIP: Tailor your product to local demand. For example, make sure you maximize both audio guide and activity availability for the local language. Also cater to high volumes of visitors from abroad who speak other languages.

To continue learning about travel trends and adapt your product to the current demand, check our Demand Recovery Index regularly. You can get to know how your market is doing here. It’s important to adapt to the current times and connect your inventory — have a look at our blog post about how API connectivity can help. 

Footnote: data are bookings made on GetYourGuide websites — date of purchase between July and August 2019 vs July and August 2020; date of travel between September and December 2019 vs September and December 2020.