Covid-19 fallout: Study says people aren’t downloading flight and hotel apps


New data collected by the attribution company AppsFlyer revealed that travel app bookings have declined steadily since news about the respiratory illness began to circulate. — AFP Relaxnews

As the coronavirus continues to spread, upending the tech industry and causing tremors in the business sector, consumers and companies alike are wary of flying and booking hotel stays.

New data collected by the attribution company AppsFlyer revealed that travel app bookings have declined steadily since news about the respiratory illness began to circulate.

While the virus is having the greatest impact on tourism in China, where hundreds have died and thousands of others are sickened, the travel fallout is global. Popular hotel and flight apps are sinking in popularity and taking a revenue hit, the information provided to USA Today suggests.

"We're seeing a 13% decrease in bookings of flights and hotels and a 21% decrease in in-app revenue worldwide," said Shani Rosenfelder, head of mobile insights at AppsFlyer, in a statement.

The San Francisco-based data firm analysed information from 115 leading travel apps and 40 million mobile app downloads from New Year's Day to Feb 9.

The Asia Pacific region, which generally includes China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, was affected the most by the slowdown in flights, with a 22% drop in bookings and a 27% drop in travel app revenue from Jan 21 to Feb 9, AppsFlyer found.

The impact of coronavirus in the US was notably less severe. North America saw a 7% drop in bookings and a 10% revenue fall.

"We believe this is because most travel in this market is domestic, where coronavirus is seen as less of a threat," Brian Quinn, president at AppsFlyer, said in a statement.

Another sign that people are holding off on vacation plans is that travel app downloads slid in late January through early February. Travelers often download several apps when a trip is in its planning stages and delete the app later, Quinn notes.

Travel app installs dropped 20% in early February, AppsFlyer found.

In China, which has been hardest hit by coronavirus infections and travel cancellations, residents are staying home, using weather apps less and playing more video games, the data suggests.

"Long hours at home are driving a 62% increase in entertainment app activity, while social casino games are up 56%, as people seek entertainment and human connection," Quinn said.

Like many tech companies, AppsFlyer was slated to attend Mobile World Congress this year but pulled out before the telecom conference was canceled due to fears of the break.

Facebook, Sony and Amazon were among the tech giants to cancel early. Delta, United and American airlines have canceled or altered flights to China in an effort to contain the virus. – USA Today/Tribune News Service

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