The current recovery is like a diet. Or so said Keith Barr, CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group who used this analogy during the recent Skift Global Forum. He said:

“After the holidays when you realize you have to lose weight, the first five pounds come off really easily, and the recovery up to now has been those first five pounds. We suppressed demand because we didn’t allow people to travel, borders were closed, and hotels were closed. Now we’ve opened up, and every pound after this [initial recovery] is going to be hard.”

This is exactly where we find ourselves today, trying to lose that extra pound, but instead we have actually gained a little weight over the past weeks.

In other words, September showed a slight decline in performance of the Skift Recovery Index after a few months of healthy growth boosted by border re-openings and the summer season.

Skift Research today published its latest report highlighting how travel performance was shaping up during the month of September. The report analyses recovery by travel sector, as well as by country. Below is an excerpt from the report, focusing on the performance of travel sectors in different regions.

Which travel sectors dropped in September?

So where does the decline of the index stem from? We will first take a look at the performance of different travel sectors.

The big story coming out of the pandemic so far is that car rental has benefited from the demise of air travel, as people look to take closer-to-home trips. However, our analysis shows that drive did not see a strong uptick in Asia Pacific at all, and that in most other regions, including Europe, drive has seen a strong decline in September. North America is the only region where drive continues to perform as the strongest sector.

According to a recent study by OAG, 69 percent of respondents planned to fly internationally in the next six months, and 79 percent would fly domestically. Admittedly, the company surveyed users of its flight app, with results therefore likely skewed at least somewhat towards a greater interest in flying than the sentiment amongst the general public, but these are nevertheless very positive numbers.

Sadly for the airline industry, this is not yet reflected in current travel behavior. While the air sector has picked up slowly in most regions during September, it still remains behind the other travel sectors, although it is conceivable that the drop in car rental performance can be tied to a growing return of air travel.

Lodging has shown the strongest rebound of the travel sectors, but it also showed some weakness creeping in during September, with performance declining in North America and Europe.

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The Skift Recovery Index is a real-time measure of where the travel industry at large — and the core verticals within it — stands in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. We work with 18 data partners to track how different sectors and countries are recovering from the current pandemic.

The index provides the travel industry with a powerful tool for strategic planning, of utmost importance in this uncertain business climate. Skift Research members have access to all data and reports. The above is an excerpt from our September Highlights report.