Cruise leads continued growth in online travel spend

Cruise leads continued growth in online travel spend

Continued growth in online travel spend is projected this summer with interest in cruises reaching a record high, new research reveals.

The online demand comes despite uncertainty surrounding the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, a weaker pound and rising inflation.

Online travel in the UK saw 14% year-on-year growth in the period of January to March 2017, with international and domestic flight bookings made by UK travelers increasing 1.8 times since January 2015.

Across the continent, online travel spend for flights and hotels is expected to total nearly €70 billion this year, with the summer period accounting for €19 billion.

Cruises appear to be the big travel winners this year with visits to cruise websites almost doubling in the last three years.

But car hire companies are not faring as well, with a 14% decrease in rentals recorded year-on-year in the first quarter, the study by Adobe shows.

Social media is proving an important source for holiday inspiration, with an average of 14 million mentions each month on travel.

Hashtags #adventure, #travel and #bucketlist remain popular throughout the summer months. Sustainable travel also performed better than expected on social media in January this year by 46%, the study shows.

Further social analysis shows that crossing countries off the bucket list and experiencing culture remain the top reasons to travel across the globe, above relaxation.

The growing trend of travel companies using new technologies to attract customers is also apparent.

Augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) had a 13% year-on-year increase in holiday mentions, and mentions of wearables increased by 44%.

This has been supported by the launch of new travel wearables like Princess Cruise’s Ocean Medallion wristband in January.

Spain is the top European summer holiday destination for the British, followed by Italy and Ireland. Those heading further afield opted for the US, Morocco or Canada, even though America is 9.7% more expensive to visit than last year.

The optimum time to book a flight is 36 days beforehand, according to the research.

Booking slightly sooner, 29 days in advance, helps secure the best price on hotels. January to March is the most popular time to book a cruise.

Adobe EMEA senior marketing director John Watton said: “Holidays are the epitome of experience, but marketers mustn’t assume that the experience begins when a customer boards the plane.

“It starts from the very first interaction the customer has with their brand.

“Analysing the underlying trends that motivate customers’ travel decisions is a great opportunity for travel businesses to build customer experiences across multiple channels, from mobile and online, VR experiences in the store, to the wearables that customers take on the trip with them.

“If marketers can create experiences that are inspiring, relevant, and targeted to their audiences across all touchpoints, they’ll be taking their customers on more journeys than one.”

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