How Travel Marketers Can Plan for 2020 Holiday Bookings

With the holiday season right around the corner, now is the time to start planning for holiday bookings, if you haven’t already. To navigate this complicated holiday season, marketers will need a thorough understanding of how the pandemic will impact travel. To this end, we took a look at Koddi’s proprietary travel data and cross-referenced it with publishers’ data to identify some of the useful trends we are seeing.

How can I best capture holiday bookings?

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives, including impacting travelers’ behavior when it comes to demand for holiday stays. This year, the key behavioral shift we anticipate is an increase in overall demand closer to the holidays compared to last year. We observed this trend during this year’s Labor Day bookings. Here are some of our key recommendations for your holiday metasearch planning:

  1. Be agile and continue investing based on the actual demand trends for Thanksgiving and Christmas to maximize opportunities as those will be slightly different this year.
  2. Prepare to expect lower demand, booking, and CVR during a few days around Thanksgiving and Christmas, with these KPIs reaching the lowest point on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day as travelers spend time away with family and friends.
  3. Get ready to act quickly and capture near-term bookings (0-3 advance booking window and on mobile) during the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
  4. Anticipate that demand for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will spike the day after Christmas.

What was U.S. demand like during the 2019 holiday season?

Last year, demand continued to decline noticeably week-over-week entering November, reaching its lowest point on Thanksgiving Day. At the start of December, demand went back up month-over-month with only a slight week-over-week decline, with Christmas Eve as the month’s lowest point. Starting December 26th, demand increased drastically for New Year’s travel, peaking on the 30th and 31st for last-minute New Year’s Eve bookings.

What can we expect for the 2020 holiday season?

Looking at our 2020 data since the end of October, we observe trends similar to last year’s data but at a 35% year-over-year decline due to the pandemic. Two main points to keep in mind here:

  1. The overall demand evolution during the holiday season will most likely stay similar to last year’s trends but at a muted level.
  2. However, the specific demand for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year will look a bit different than last year’s. This year, we should expect to see a larger increase the week prior to each holiday, whereas last year, we saw a gradual week-over-week increase.

Are travelers searching for Thanksgiving stays yet?

Starting the last week of this October, we observed an increased demand for Thanksgiving check-in dates (Wednesday the 25th or Thursday the 26th). This year, there has been a more pronounced increase in demand closer to Thanksgiving compared to what we have seen historically — a gradual rise weeks prior to the holiday. The trend for Thanksgiving bookings this year is similar to what we observed around previous major holidays, such as Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Demand suddenly accelerated roughly 4 weeks prior to each holiday and peaked at a higher rate than last year during the week leading up to the holiday. Therefore, we expect the opportunity for Thanksgiving stays this year to look as follows:

We will continue to keep you updated on traveler behavior and any interesting trends we observe during the holiday season. Make sure you stay informed by subscribing to our newsletter or following Koddi on LinkedIn. It is our mission to ensure that you are prepared for what the future holds, and we firmly believe that we will come out of this together. Happy Holidays!