What happened

After an awful Thursday, shares of online travel giant Expedia Group (NASDAQ:EXPE) rallied to close nearly 6.2% higher the following day. A new, optimistic report on the travel industry could very well have been the catalyst for Friday's improvement.

So what

Utilizing search data for the period of mid-April to early June culled from Expedia, consumer insight consultancy BVA BDRC found that U.S. consumers have increased their intent to travel during the summer months. According to this research, the volume of Expedia travel searches conducted by Americans rose by an average 20% on a week-over-week basis.

This reverses the previous trend, when this activity declined at steady rates in March and the early part of April.

An airplane taking off at dusk.

Image source: Getty Images.

The research also indicates an increase of 57% between April and June in customer intent to utilize an online travel agency -- such as Expedia -- to help book a trip.

A major factor in this recovery is the reopening of the economy in many parts of the world following widespread business shutdowns in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Another factor is the "stay-in-place" measures that kept people essentially quarantined at home.

Now what

Although search data can be revealing, we should keep in mind it's merely an indicator of potential improvement. Only if and when those searchers book trips through the site will the company benefit. That said, this trend could very well be Expedia's friend if it results in a meaningful recovery in actual bookings.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.