Aspirational Travelers and New Year’s Resolution Demand

A Closer Look at Aspirational Travelers and New Year's Resolution Demand

Every year, millions of people around the globe ring in the New Year and set new goals for themselves filled with optimism. Though weight loss and quitting bad habits are often top of mind when we think about common New Year’s resolutions, more general or vague goals like “try something new” or “enjoy life to the fullest” might be interpreted by some as a chance to take a fun trip in the new year, and we’ve identified a few data points that may reveal a subset of aspirational travelers: the New Year’s resolution aspirational travelers.

We’ve already examined the buyer’s journey and the different types of travelers, but we decided to take a deeper look to take a look at how New Year’s resolutions and travel aspirations manifest in organic search and metasearch campaigns.

Destination City Demand

First, let’s consider the cities most likely to attract travelers’ attention. Kayak recently posted its 2018 Travel Hacker Guide, which ranks trending destinations, popular destinations, and beach destinations based on user searches in the platform.

The top 10 most popular destinations are perennial favorites: Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Chicago, Denver, Miami, San Francisco, London (the lone international locale), and Seattle. These properties represent some of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. We see interest in this group rebound 40% day over day on 1/2/18, while the rest of the world experienced 29% day over day growth in opportunities, which is much broader than the 27% vs. 21% gap in 2017.

One consideration here is that while these cities certainly attract a high tourist population, they are also major business hubs, so search data may include a large subset of business travel. To target more leisure-minded travelers, we can look at the second list of properties- the Top 10 Trending, which may be more likely to attract a flurry of aspirational tourist interest in early January.

Trending Destinations

Kayak’s Top 10 Trending Destinations are those with some of the largest growth in search and include Rome, Paris, Athens, Madrid, Las Vegas, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Bali, Barcelona, and Maui. We aggregated the eligible impressions in 2017 from meta search data for these cities to get a sense of the impact on metasearch campaigns. Since New Year’s Day consistently ranks among the lowest demand days of the year, it may come as no surprise that the biggest day over day increase in opportunities come on January 2.

When we consider the post-holiday shift for these top destination cities compared to the rest of the world, we see that they are overall faster to rebound at the start of the new year, garnering more opportunities and visibility faster than other cities (33% vs 29% in 2018). What’s more interesting, however, is when we shift our view back to one year ago when the day over day change on January 2 was 47% for the Top 10 group versus 21% for other destinations.

The year over year shifts in destination cities’ popularity and growth in interest demonstrates just how much travel interests can shift. With the prevalence of influencers on social media, popular locales and destinations are evolving more rapidly than ever before. Segmented interest groups and new bloggers emerge constantly, meaning that the 2019 Trending List is likely to look very different from this year’s, and we can likely expect more fragmentation as travelers look for new and interesting travel opportunities.

Travel as a New Year’s Resolution

The biggest difference between the two destination lists is the inclusion of more international destinations. How might that manifest itself in natural search data? For many, the first step in thinking about an international trip might involve obtaining or updating a passport, so let’s examine “passport” as a search term over the past five years, and to provide a better sense of scope, we can include a favorite New Years resolution, “weight loss.”

In this chart from Google Trends, we see some interesting results over five years of data.

In 2013, “weight loss” indexed higher than “passport,” but around 2016, we start to see “passport” exceed “weight loss” in the index. Even more interesting, the trend lines are very similar between the two terms. In fact, these two lines share a +0.69 correlation. You may notice that there is a distinct peak every year, and it falls on the final week of December to New Years!

Takeaways for Advertisers

  • Monitor “aspirational” properties and locales: By tracking these types of high-volume properties in the new year, we can identify destinations/properties with high click volume and low conversion rates, particularly in default dates instead of selected, as users inputting specific dates are likely further down in the funnel and closer to booking.
  • Know your conversion paths: Even if they’re not quite ready to make travel plans on January 2, aspirational travelers may become valued guests for your properties in the year ahead. Understanding your conversion funnel and how and when to reach the most qualified users is vital to success.
  • Support international travelers: As we saw in the Google Trends example, interest in international travel has grown significantly, so ensuring that you have proper language and currency support is also an important consideration for advertisers with international property portfolios.
  • Extend your reach and visibility: Complete itinerary and rates coverage will ensure that your ads serve users with longer advanced booking windows and specific stay-lengths and travel dates.
  • Offer the best price: Understanding how your rates compare with competitors can help you to improve your conversion rate dramatically, as we know that best price is the most important consideration for users looking to book a room. It may be the deciding factor for whether a user books that big 2018 trip with you or a competitor. Additionally, price accuracy is rewarded by publishers, so this is also an opportunity to decrease CPCs and improve efficiency.

How We Can Help

These trends are certainly interesting and worth advertisers’ attention, but how can it shape future business strategies? It’s important to track locales that drive increased opportunities for your properties and their conversion trends, but with so much data and constant shifts in travelers’ interests, it may be a daunting task to stay on top of these trends.

If you’ve set some big 2018 resolutions for your advertising campaigns, we can help make them a reality. Looking to drive more traffic? Want to ensure that high-traffic properties in popular destinations are performing to your ROI targets? Koddi’s sophisticated bidding algorithms take the guesswork out of the equation and simplify the data, customizing your bids to your goals on a scheduled basis to help you perform at optimal levels. We can also help you ensure overall account health and optimal performance through tools designed to track your price accuracy and rate parity.

A Closer Look at Aspirational Travelers and New Year's Resolution Demand

Metasearch , Travel