Search Listening And Coronavirus: Is It Safe To Travel? Should I Book A Holiday?

This post was originally published on on 5th March.

The outbreak of coronavirus worldwide is understandably causing real panic and concern amongst consumers and businesses. You only have to jump into Google Trends to see huge spikes in terms relating to advice around travel, and declines in terms that are usually hugely popular, like ‘cheap flights’:

For me, Search Listening can reveal some really interesting stuff here. Think of the suggestions that Google presents when you start typing as an indicator of the mood of the nation.

Really generic starting points like ‘is it safe…’, ‘should i…’ and ‘can i…’, at a more ‘normal’ time, reflect the things we worry about or are curious about on a day-to-day basis. Things like ‘is it safe to eat bread after its use-by date’ and ‘should I join the gym’. But right now, in this less ‘normal’ time, the picture these generic seed terms paint is very different and reflects a nation that’s very much experiencing stress tied to coronavirus.

As of today (5th March 2020), ‘is it safe…’ suggestions are heavily focused on travel and coronavirus:

Suggestions following ‘should i…’ still reflect some day-to-day stresses (e.g. ‘should I get a smart meter’) but, again, coronavirus is present:

I had a peek at these terms on Monday (2nd March) and will be tracking them (and endeavoring to update them in the charts below) moving forwards to get a gauge of the nation’s fears at this time; checking in today (three days later) I’ve already seen new destinations like Paris make then ‘top ten’ of concerns. My expectation is that as and when the outbreak is contained we’ll see a return to ‘normality’ around ‘is it safe…’, ‘should i…’ and similar searches. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later!