Google identifies travel search peaks

Search-query analysis by Google could help travel companies make crucial decisions this summer. The search giant has compared consumer behaviour this year and last to assess the impact of the weather, state of the economy and other factors.

Google reports overall travel queries up 12% year-on-year to date and 11.2% for the week beginning May 21, with car-hire and hotels attracting the strongest growth in search volumes.

Its analysis confirms consumers are leaving research closer to their holiday departure, with queries for breaks peaking 12 days before Easter 2009. There was a similar spike in travel queries before the main school summer holiday last year.

The search volumes also confirm a trend towards domestic, non-euro and non-US dollar destinations, owing to the weakness of the pound.

UK domestic queries, particularly for coastal resorts such as Blackpool and Brighton, have increased 30% in the year to date, with foreign searches up 15% year on year.

Short-haul destinations have seen an average increase of 9%, with Turkey showing the strongest growth at 61%, followed by Egypt, Croatia and Morocco. Long-haul destinations are up by an average 18%. Queries relating to travel to South Africa saw the highest growth at 36%, followed by Thailand, Australia and Dubai.

The Google analysis suggests weather plays an important role in the level of consumer interest in travel. For example, search volumes were lower in June 2008 than in July, with the former experiencing less rain and more hours of sunshine than June 2007 – although football’s 2008 European Championship may have been a factor.

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