Online Travel Searches Rocket Following Clock Change

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Searches for international flights rocketed by 22% overnight when the clocks went back in 2015, explained by people seeking to escape their winter woes. In 2015 New York produced the largest spike in searches, (+43%), followed by Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Las Vegas. It is not just jet-setting that spiked, there were similar increases in visits to Last Minute’s spa page (

While the clocks changing clearly has a major impact on consumer behaviour,’s findings suggest that brands should be prepared for other external factors including weather, with storms in particular leading to a need for escape. Storm Clodagh, the 3rd biggest to hit the UK in 2015 resulted in a 42% rise in search for international flights, with Barcelona and Rome rising by over 70%!

Black Friday and Christmas are very much on people’s agendas for the remainder of 2016 but it is important not to overlook the power of external factors on consumer behaviour. The by-product of the flight searches are the supporting aspects which facilitate such travel such as holiday clothing, a new camera to capture the experience or car hire to take in all that the destination has to offer. All of which and many more sectors must react to external factors in order to capitalise.

Google search trends below for “Winter Sun” and “Winter holiday” were near their peak in October and November respectively over the last year, rising steadily from June onwards.

Winter Travel Trends

Interestingly, searches for flights in the last 12 months were at their highest in the first week of January, with people seemingly wanted to bury their Christmas blues by giving themselves something to look forward to.

Since 2015 there has a seismic shift towards self-service and mobile search in the travel sector, with around 50% of hotel bookings taking place on a mobile device. Research from BrightEdge reported that around 50% of website traffic relating to hospitality sites originates from organic search means. However, IgnitionOne suggest that paid search delivers customers with a higher average order value. What is clear is the need to reach consumers interested in travel across multiple channels and devices. This will facilitate the building of brand awareness, loyalty and customer relations, by delivering engaging, interesting, inspiring and useful content that drives sales.

Trends for 2016

Trends for 2016 included authenticity and experiential with the world constantly providing the backdrop for our various social media status updates. Climate change promotes the popularity in ‘last chance to see it’ travel including glaciers visits, the Northern Lights (on the end of an 11-year cycle according to experts) and the Maldives with opportunities seemingly disappearing in the next 100 years. Then there is the use of virtual reality to sell a destination to a holiday consumer. The travel industry has moved on from the high street travel agent and is more and more self-service driven, meaning travellers want to be able to book, check-in and amend bookings without any human interaction, predominantly from their mobile device.


Mixing business and pleasure was increasingly popular, with people opting to explore beyond the conference room by adding a few days on to the end of their trips, even accommodating family to make the most of the experience. Destinations including India, China, Colombia, Mexico, Singapore and Australia were popular destinations for business pleasure, or “Bleisure”. (

Travel Experience

Every traveller seeks a seamless experience from booking to return and thus boutique, luxury travel agents and concierge services thrive in the digital age. By providing one point of contact to cater for all pre, during and post-holiday needs these companies are a one stop shop which can meet these needs

Travel Sector Digital Checklist

  • Mobile responsive website
  • Active, engaging and useful social media presence
  • Multi-channel approach to marketing all year round
  • Register with reputable booking engines
  • Be prepared to act upon external factors

If you require any assistance with your travel marketing strategy or want to hear more please contact the team at Digital Clarity.

Darren Parsons
Darren is a member of Digital Clarity’s account management team. He has a wide interest and vast experience in sport sponsorship and marketing having worked in the industry for 9 years. Darren keeps up to date with market trends and enjoys facilitating the strategies companies use to digitally enhance their profile and visibility via various platforms.