Google stats hint at move away from late bookings

Britons are planning their 2010 breaks earlier than last year, according to Google’s UK travel team.

A white paper posted onto Google’s UK travel blog looked at query and click trends during the first five months of the year. Overall travel queries are 20% ahead year-on-year, although the same period last year was during the height of the recession.
Air is outperforming other sectors and is 24% ahead. However, Google notes that this includes a lot of ash-related queries, which were of little use to travel product advertisers.

Clicks on travel ads are up 13% year-on-year while the cost per click for advertisers is down by 4% with hotels and car hire seeing CPC falls of 7%.

“The drop in CPCs reflects the fact that auctions are less competitive as advertiser depth has declined by an average of 2% year-on-year,” Google said.

Advertiser depth is defined as the number of impression per matched query.

The paper also referred to trends “which mark the departure of reliance on the lates market” based on a look at the two UK public holidays in May. This year, travel queries peaked 11 days before the first holiday and 12 before the second. Last year, queries peaked only four days before for both.

The trends reflect 2007 and 2008 patterns. Google suggests that interest in travel around the August holiday will peak a lot earlier than last year and advises travel companies to consider this when allocating budgets. It also suggest that travel queries relating to travel during school summer breaks would be more in line with 2007 and 2008 than 2009.

In terms of destinations Paris is leading city break queries, with Spain and Turkey ahead for short haul holiday destinations. Queries for eurozone destinations are ahead, with interest in city break destinations strong.

Despite their economic and environmental concerns, travel searches for Greece and Florida are up 23% and 31% respectively.

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