The silver lining of bad weather: more holiday bookings

Friday, 14 January 2011 | 12:12


A survey by Sainsbury’s Travel insurance has revealed that more than 13 million people will book a holiday before the end of February. The average amount spend on a holiday is expected to fall 1% year on year, but the increased number of people booking means that spending is expected to increase by 49%, to £11 billion.

Our data tells a similar story. Travel related queries for the weeks immediately leading up to and after Christmas have seen massive year on year growth. In our whitepaper published before Christmas we highlighted the increasing importance of December in the online travel market, as travellers begin their research earlier. As the graph below demonstrates, queries in December actually outpaced the growth from the year before. This query growth has continued into 2011, with 28% and 19% year on year growth respectively in the first two weeks of the year.

The two weeks which saw the highest year on year growth were the weeks which were most affected by the weather, meaning that a lot of the additional queries would not have been commercial. However, query growth has been high in every other week, so we can assume that the spike is legitimate.

Fig 1: Year on year query growth for all Travel queries Week 49 – Week 2 2009/10 – 2010/11

As is often the case during periods of intense query growth, the average depth (number of ads shown per query) has fallen, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for cost efficient traffic. The graph below shows that in each of the past six weeks, average depth has been lower than the previous year.

Fig 2: Average depth for all Travel queries Week 49 – Week 2 2009/10 – 2010/11

• Uncap daily budgets for the remainder of January. In the last two years, the traditional ‘January peak’ has extended well into February.
• Constantly review your account setup and keyword coverage to ensure you appear where people are searching.
• Use insights for search to keep on top of changing query patterns.

Posted by Michael Wicks, Senior Industry Analyst