Skift Take

Europeans' propensity to book last-minute flights more frequently that U.S. road warriors has more to do with the flight-marketing tactics of Ryanair and EasyJet than it has to do with mobile adoption.

Understanding why 35 percent of European business travelers booked last-minute, or same day, trips during the holidays compared with only 18 percent of their U.S. counterparts requires knowing the divergent markets for last-minute flights in Europe versus the U.S.

This finding, from Sojern’s fourth quarter 2014 report on traveler insights, which looked at more than 600 million traveler data points such as online searches, aligns with Europe’s abundance of last-minute flight activity, said Kurt Weinsheimer, a spokesperson for Sojern.

“You have airlines like Ryanair in Europe who have really cheap fares already who make it easier for business travelers to book last-minute than U.S. airlines typically make last-minute booking for Americans,” said Weinsheimer.

Europeans don’t claim all the last-minute bragging rights however, as U.S. leisure travelers do more last-minute booking than Europeans, 82 percent versus. 65 percent, Sojern found. While these percentages only represent fourth-quarter activity, Weinsheimer says this finding is indicative of the larger, consistent behavior of Americans versus Europeans when it comes to booking vacations.

Many Americans look at the holidays as the perfect time of year to take time off and vacations may often be planned at the last minute due to work constraints, with some using all their vacation time during the Christmas to New Years period. For Europeans, the holiday season is only the beginning of their time off, as they often take several weeks off throughout the year and generally have more allotted vacation time than Americans, Weinsheimer said.

Trips during the holidays were most likely short for many Americans and Europeans, as the data show trips up to 2 days in duration had the highest percentage of bookings for all three months in the fourth quarter for both groups.

The report also reveals the top cities that European and American travelers searched for in the fourth quarter for summer 2015 travel. Mallorca and Alicante, Spain, a popular destination for Europeans, were first and second, respectively and Los Angeles ranks third, two spots higher than New York City at five. Weinsheimer says these rankings don’t reflect where Europeans will actually go this summer.

“A lot of the time searches are going to be for exotic destinations, but when it comes down to it, some of these destinations are a haul,” said Weinsheimer. “The actual bookings are usually for cities closer to home. This farther out you go usually has people dreaming versus reality.”

For Americans, London is number one for searches, and the surprise city of Seattle also makes an appearance, as well, at number nine.

“Again, U.S. travelers are dreaming right now as they think about their summer vacations,” said Weinsheimer. “London will not be the top booked destination in reality, and we were surprised to see Seattle show up on the list. We don’t have a good story around why that is and we will have to keep an eye on it.”

See the full report below for more 2015 traveler insights.

Top 10 Cities Searched by U.S. Travelers During Q4 2014 for Summer 2015 Travel

Rank City
1 London
2 Cancun
3 Paris
4 Las Vegas
5 Orlando
6 Honolulu
7 New York City
8 Los Angeles
9 Seattle
10 Punta Cana

Top 10 Cities Searched by European Travelers During Q4 2014 for Summer 2015 Travel

Rank City
1 Mallorca, Spain
2 Alicante, Spain
3 Los Angeles
4 Malaga, Spain
5 New York City
6 Bangkok
7 Barcelona
8 Ibiza, Spain
9 San Francisco
10 Miami

Source: Sojern

Download (PDF, 5.02MB)


Skift Daily Newsletter

Get the travel industry’s daily must-read email 6 days a week

Tags: booking, sojern, vacations

Photo credit: A vacationer glances at his phone on the beach. Mike Cogh / Flickr

Up Next

Loading next stories