Early 2018 travel booking numbers rise 9% YoY – we look at the implications

Criteo, a commerce marketing technology company, has published its Travel Peak 2018 Report that provides an analysis of holiday bookings and customer behaviour between November 2017 and Easter 2018.

This year’s data found that mobile devices continue to grow in popularity for booking travel and identifies some of the UK’s most popular destinations based on bookings made earlier this year.

According to an analysis of over more than one million bookings, UK travel sites saw buyer numbers surge by 9% while overall visitors increased by 2% year-on-year. The statistics show that holidaymakers are increasingly eager to commit to holidays earlier in the year in a bid to escape 2017/18’s, particularly cold winter.

Travel sales surge

Boxing Day has always been a popular day for booking a holiday in a bid to stave off post-Christmas blues and saw a 17% increase in bookings YoY. However, the latest findings from Criteo reveal that Black Friday 2017 was the real winner for travel businesses, experiencing a huge 22% increase in holiday sales.

“Unprecedented rise in bookings”

Pauline Lemaire, head of travel and classified, Criteo, said: “What was most surprising, and in many ways, totally unexpected, was the unprecedented rise in bookings on Black Friday which outstripped Boxing Day for the first time ever.”

This shows that the buying bonanza usually associated with retail is now impacting travel too. Holidaymakers are now taking advantage of the deals and offers available around this increasingly popular shopping date.

Travel Daily tip
Don’t be afraid to save your marketing budget until the end of the year – when the Black Friday effect of mass purchases of in-store goods has now translated into online travel buying, too.

Mobile minibreaks take off (but half leave it late)

The report also highlights other changes in Brits’ booking habits. In January 2018, a quarter of all holidays booked were minibreaks (between one and three days) as shoppers look for cost-effective ways to get their holiday fix.

Meanwhile, last-minute Easter breaks proved popular this year, with 47% of bookings made in the two weeks leading up to the public holiday.

The growing preference for shorter, last-minute breaks has in turn seen mobile to continue its growth in importance as a booking platform. With up to 80% of these last-minute holidays booked on mobile devices, the smartphone has quickly become a key channel for holidaymakers thanks to its flexibility and convenience.

Travel Daily tip
Ensure your site works just as well – if not better – on mobile, with a seamless buying experience across platforms. Let users save items to a wishlist, to be picked up on another device later.

Christian Armond, marketing director at loveholidays, said: “Today’s findings show that a more mobile-savvy Britain, that have embraced the convenience of booking online, is realising how easy and secure it can be to book an entire holiday on their mobile.

“As travellers start to look ahead to the summer, it is key that online travel agents offer a seamless booking experience on whatever device their customers choose to use, wherever they are, whether it is sitting on the sofa or on the bus home from work!”

Spain accounts for a fifth of January’s bookings

The statistics also reveal the UK’s favourite holiday destinations booked over the course of January 2018. Spain was the number-one choice, accounting for 21% of all bookings in January (based on 1m transactions) as travellers sought warmer winter climes.

The top three countries, Spain, France and the USA, accounted for 1/3 of all bookings. Short-haul and domestic destinations make up eight of the top ten destinations, underlining the trend for shorter breaks ahead of the traditional summer holiday period.

“Travel companies need to remain flexible”

Lemaire continued: “How British people book holidays and the types of trips they are taking is constantly evolving. Our latest report shows the growing popularity of last minute trips, booked on the fly via mobile web or app.

“To keep pace with these changes, particularly those unpredictable ones, travel companies need to remain flexible and ensure that they are set up to adapt to the volatile purchasing habits of today’s demanding travellers. What hasn’t changed, however, is the British desire to escape the cold and find some sunshine!”

Top 10 destinations booked by Brits

  • Spain
  • France
  • USA
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • Thailand
  • [Others]

Study methodologies

Criteo’s Travel Peak 2018 Report is based on the analysis of up to 25 million booking transactions in the UK between November 2017 and March 2018. The pool of advertisers was composed of airlines, OTAs and accommodation advertisers to provide a complete picture of travel booking habits in the UK.

For a complete look at the Q4 Travel Insights report, click here.

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