Google is leveraging its most valuable asset, search data, to help the beleaguered travel industry through a new Travel Insights platform

With search interest in travel hovering at 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, the tech giant said big data can offer businesses, governments, and tourism boards a better understanding of how to adapt to pent-up travel demand.

Google’s Destination Insights tool offers a glimpse into top sources of demand for locations around the world. In the last three months, for instance, the US, followed by Germany and France, have been the top three markets looking up travel information for the UK.

Meanwhile, the Hotel Insights tool helps hotels, particularly small and independent properties, refine their marketing. In the case of Hawaii, which has seen a surge in bookings, top sources of accommodation search interest come from California, followed by Hawaii, Washington, Texas, and New York.

Rapid changes in demand, often a byproduct of travel restrictions, have caught many travel operators off guard and highlights the need for accessible, real-time data. An example is the highly anticipated Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble, for which both cities experienced a surge in interest, according to Google’s Destination Insights tool, and is now postponed to 2021.

“The pandemic is causing rapid and sizable shifts in consumer behaviors like no phenomenon we have seen, punctuating the strong industry need for market intelligence,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president for public affairs and policy at US Travel Association. “Tools like Destination Insights will help travel providers reimagine their offerings and drive a strong recovery into 2021.”

The tech giant has also been partnering with airlines such as Air France and Lufthansa to generate insights into demand shifts and new route opportunities, according to Skift. Google’s Flight Demand Explorer tool, launched in March, helps network planners determine viable city pairs when combined with airlines’ internal data and other sources.