Just as U.S. travelers expect deals at retail stores during the holiday season, the same is true for airlines and hotels with travelers waiting for bargains until a couple days or weeks before departure or check-in.
Last-minute airline and hotel bookings during the holiday season are a predominant practice for Americans in search of the best deals to get home for the holidays or away for relaxation.
That’s according to a new holiday 2015 report from Adara, a travel data company, which found that 50 percent of all holiday hotel stays were booked after December 14 last year and half of all flights were booked after November 17. While many of these bookings aren’t truly day-before or day-of bookings they still represent a large swatch of U.S. travelers clicking book within a week or two of departure or check-in.
So far for 2015 Adara has observed a higher search-to-book ratio for flights and hotels compared to full-year 2014 and predicts that there’s a good chance this holiday season will follow along with this trend. The charts below illustrate transactional travel data from more than 90 global travel brands; Adara defines the holiday travel period as December 18, 2015 to January 3, 2016.
Chart 1: About half of all holiday hotel stays were booked after December 14 last year for solo, couple and family travelers. This means that nearly 60% of solo travelers hadn’t booked their hotels by mid December and nearly 40% of couple and family travelers also hadn’t booked their hotels by December 15.
Chart 2: Last year only half of all holiday-related flights were booked by November 17. Solo travelers were most likely to wait until December to book their flights.
Chart 3: Solo, couple and family travelers book their hotel within a day of booking their flights and the time from a booking to departure or check-in varies widely.
Chart 4: While more than 60% of international flights are two to three weeks in duration, 48% of domestic flights are two to three weeks in duration.
Chart 5: For all of 2014, only two to five percent of all flight searches led to bookings and there were an average of 20 to 50 searches before a booking was made. Looking at Q1-Q3 2015 booking data, Adara found a higher ratio of bookings to searches, pointing out that 13% of all searches for Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, resulted in bookings. Exotic locations like Hawaii have more searches for holiday travel compared to second or third-tier cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin or Buffalo, New York.
Chart 6: Resort-centric locations such as Hawaii have a higher than average rate of hotel bookings prior to flight bookings than a city like Chicago.
The Daily Newsletter
Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.
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Photo credit: Passengers walking through Los Angeles International Airport. Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters