Winter is the season of extremes in the travel world and, while many Brits escape the winter and head for the sun, a rising number are heading for the snow and the slopes. Yahoo! Travel Europe general manager, Tim Frankcom, explains what happens when the nights get longer.
The weather, both at home and abroad, plays a pivotal role in the buying habits of travellers during the colder months, with ski holidays and so-called winter sun breaks playing a major role in online searches.
In response to this rising demand for ski and snow breaks, Yahoo! Travel has launched a dedicated Ski and Snow section enabling users to search flights, hotel and car hire offers individually to create their own package or to use our ski holiday search to find the perfect package holiday.
The prospect of a frosty festive period drove an increasing number of people to take advantage of offers to Spain and the Canary Islands and searches for these destinations dominated the top flight destinations, pushing other traditional winter favourites such as Amsterdam further down the search rankings. Nevertheless, Sydney and Bangkok continued to draw long-haul sun-seekers.
Travel search marketers who overlook the importance of seasonality risk losing out on huge traffic volumes. While generic terms such as ‘cheap flight’ remain extremely popular, competition for these terms is fierce and seasonal terms offer a more cost-effective solution.
However, they should also remember that while terms such as ‘winter holiday’ and ‘Christmas holiday’ become highly searched at this time of year, winter is also the time when many start thinking about booking their summer break and ‘Summer holiday’ is still in the top 10 travel search terms.
The high number of searches on the Overture network for holiday destinations such as Lapland and Iceland proves that easy access to destination information online is encouraging travellers to become more adventurous, but at the same time, others are using the Internet to explore their home country and domestic travel and shopping breaks have proved very popular so far this year.
Consumers are also becoming savvier travel shoppers, looking at a broader range of airport departure points and regional airports, with Southampton and Doncaster becoming increasingly common searches. London is currently the only city featured in the top 10 travel searches made on the Overture network.
Searches on Yahoo! Travel confirm that Christmas shopping breaks and family visits are driving an increase in the popularity of UK hotel searches with UK destinations accounting for more than half of the top 10 UK hotel searches.
For those travellers prepared to venture a bit further, the promise of bargains in New York or in the sunshine and duty-free shopping haven of Dubai have provided a strong lure for many holidaymakers.