Summer Travel Inspire

Summer Travel Inspire

Key Takeaways

As Winter officially ends and the sun begins to shine, consumers start to think about where they want to travel during the Summer months. This Inspire will provide insight into when these searches occur, top trending destinations and identifying differences between key audiences. Five things to take away from this Inspire are:

1) Seasonal trends
Searches for “vacation” begin to rise in May and peak in August. Searches then drop off throughout the year, until spiking rapidly again in January.

2) Top destinations
Las Vegas and Florida top the list of travel destinations in terms of interest, but Cuba and the Philippines are heating up. Meanwhile, Americans are less interested in traveling to Europe, with Paris taking a big dive.

3) Impact of terror attacks
Terror attacks lead to increases in searches around travel safety and flight cancellations. With each new attack, travelers are increasingly anxious and looking for options to back out.

4) Mobile search
Mobile devices play a larger role in early-stage travel planning and once the traveler has left home, but booking and destination-specific planning tend to take place on a desktop.

5) International versus Domestic travelers
Travel booking sites like Google Flights play a more predominant role among international travelers while sites like account for a greater share of visits among domestic travelers.

Search Demand

Searches for holidays peak in August and January

Searches for “vacation” peak twice during the year. First, in January just when the holidays are over. Secondly, there is a steady increase as summer approaches beginning in May and peaking in August when people are making last minute plans. Marketers need to ramp up summer travel campaigns in May to reach early planners.

“Spring Break” searches are heaviest from January through March, but a second spike post Spring Break season occurs in April as travelers plan ahead for next year.

US Summer Travel: Search Trends

Top Destinations

Las Vegas, Florida, Disney and New York remain among America’s top go-to destinations (both domestically and overall). International destinations close to home, like the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada are the most popular and becoming even more so. Cuba, especially, is heating up thanks to the lifting of travel restrictions for Americans who wish to visit the island. Cuba has more than doubled it’s share of online travel searches in the past year. Other islands, especially those in the Pacific, are also gaining in popularity with Hawaii, Manila, Bora Bora and Bangkok all up this year versus 2015.

US Summer Travel: Top Destinations

Trending Destinations

Many European destinations are taking a hit with Budapest and Paris among those losing the greatest share of search share. Important to point out though is the fact that London is one of the few European spots to not only maintain, but grow it’s share of travel searches in the last year.

Domestically, Panama City has seen a large decline in search share as the once popular Spring Break destination cools off.

Top Tip
Use search term report filters to include, exclude, or isolate specific destinations of interest.

US Summer Travel: Fast-Moving Destinations

Travel Concerns

Terror attacks raise travel safety concerns at critical time

Recent terror attacks have resulted in an increase in searches for “travel warnings” and other information as to whether or not it is safe to travel to certain destinations. With each attack, Americans grow increasingly concerned. Searches related to travel safety during the four weeks ending April 2—including the period when Brussels suffered two attacks—were the highest observed during the last year. Similar spikes in search activity followed the attacks in Paris in November 2015 and the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015.

Interestingly, a similar analysis of UK travelers showed that instead of growing more concerned about travel safety after each attack, Brits have become less concerned. For more information about travel trends in the UK, download a copy of the Hitwise UK Summer Travel Inspire here.

US Summer Travel: Travel Warnings

The recent attacks in Brussels occurred during a critical moment as Americans enter their summer travel planning season. Travel companies would be wise to provide information on travel safety as well as provide information on the availability of travel insurance should another incident occur making travelers weary.


Majority of travel searches are mobile

Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are a key tool for travelers during the early stages of planning a trip. It is also an important way to search for things to do once a traveler has arrived at their destination. While 41 percent of all visits to travel sites (excluding map sites) occur on a mobile device, travel searches are even more likely to begin on a smartphone or tablet. Mobile is more important in the early planning stages and once travelers have left home, while desktops become more important as consumers begin researching specific destinations and actually book their travel plans.

For instance, 44 percent of visits to Destination and Accommodation sites are from a mobile device, but 58 percent of all searches that result in a visit to a destination or accommodation site originated on a mobile device. Searches that include general terms like “deal,” “last minute” or “all-inclusive” all skew more heavily mobile. But once would-be travelers begin to focus on specific airlines, hotels or car rentals, mobile takes a back seat.

US Summer Travel: Mobile Visits

Things to Do and Travel Tips

Another travel-related search that is often conducted on a mobile device focuses on “things to do.” Would-be travelers conducting such searches are likely to be in the research phase of the trip planning narrowing their travel destinations by activities that best align with their interests.

When it comes to travel tips, foreign destinations are among the most common as Americans planning on traveling to an unknown land seek advice to help them be savvier travelers.

US Summer Travel: Top Variations

Targeting Key Audiences

Travelers can be as different from one another as the destinations they visit. Understanding those differences is key to engaging travelers. Using AudienceView, we’ve examined two key segments of travelers, including those who have over-indexed for domestic travel in the last 12 months (Power Elite segment) and those who have over-indexed for foreign travel in the last 12 months (Young City Solos segment).

Power Elite travelers tend to have a household income of $100,000 or more, a college degree and a median age of 46. Young City Solos most over-index for incomes between $75,000 and 99,000, a college degree and a median age of 35.

Travelers who fall into these two segments both have budgets to travel and are educated, but they have very different travel interests and needs which must be considered. For instance, accounts for a 35 percent greater share of Power Elite’s visits to Travel Agency sites compared to Young City Solos. Likewise, Google Flights accounts for a 20 percent greater share of Young City Solos’ Travel Agency visits compared to Power Elite.

US Summer Travel: Over-Indexing Sites
US Summer Travel: Over-Indexing News Sites

When it comes to destinations-related searches, the Power Elite are much more likely to seek out “last minute travel,” while Young City Solos are more likely to be looking “cheap airline flights.”

With safety concerns so high these days, travel companies may want to consider increasing their display ads on New and Media sites. Those trying to reach higher concentrations of Power Elite travelers would do well to consider sites like Google News or Reuters which account for a greater share of this group’s visits to News sites than Young City Solos. Likewise, sites like Yahoo Tech and Buzzfeed are among those sites where you’ll find much higher concentrations of Young City Solo travelers than Power Elite.

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