18 July 2017
There’s no doubt that the summer season is a peak time for holidays, with customers heading abroad in droves to seek out the sun. But, with around three quarters of UK holidaymakers booking their holiday over a month in advance, does this mean that summer leads to a downturn in travel industry bookings?
The answer is probably not what you’d expect.
Data recently collated by Accord shows that so far this year, between weeks 5th June and 3rd July, travel-related bookings have increased by an average of 14.5%, largely due to the phenomenon known as the “lates market”.
The “lates market”, as it has been labelled by many industry insiders, is a period of the year - falling between May and August - where travel operators report a surge of interest from customers who are looking for a last-minute holiday deal.
Last year, for example, UK Google search queries for the term “last minute holidays” rose drastically between June and August, more than doubling in popularity. In fact, between 24th July and 6th August, this term reached its peak in popularity across the entire year. Looking at Google trends in more detail highlights that this is a recurring phenomenon, with a consistent spike in searches around the “lates” booking period.
More importantly, however, the “lates” trend is showing no signs of abating. According to Hitwise, in May and June last year, visits to UK-based travel websites increased by 7% and 2% year-on-year, respectively. This is even more impressive (and surprising) when you consider that web visits in January 2017 - the month that is regarded as peak time for travel bookings - actually decreased by 6% year-on-year.
Of course, just because search traffic and web visits increase significantly between May and July, this does not mean that bookings will necessarily increase too. However, what it does show is that there is a huge opportunity for attracting potential last-minute holidaymakers.
So, to make sure that you are not missing out on this crucial booking period, here are our top tips for taking advantage of the “lates market” and securing last-minute sales:
A huge driving force behind the “lates market” is the fact that consumers are searching for last-minute deals, all-inclusive offers and cheap bargains. So, if a customer has visited your website several times before but is still yet to book, the “lates” booking period is a perfect time to re-engage them in the purchase cycle.
By drawing attention to competitive pricing or limited time offers, you can add a sense of urgency to your campaigns, capturing the interest of consumers who don’t want to miss out on the best deals available. Whether it’s through dynamic retargeting or strategic email campaigns, make sure you incentivise potential customers to book with you, quickly and easily.
Our data shows that, between April and June 2017, natural search bookings increased by 18.49%. Given that this period sees a massive surge in online travel related searches queries, we should - in theory - see a rise in PPC and SEO ad spend from most travel companies. However, this is often not the case.
By increasing search marketing activity to ensure that your brand is at the top of search rankings, you can ensure that the majority of this increased traffic is directed towards your website and is converted into bookings. Use these search ads to grab your consumer’s attention, highlight your USPs and demonstrate your sector expertise. Be engaging, be dynamic and – most importantly – be relevant.
It’s a simple fact: no-one is going to be searching for your brand if they’ve never heard of it! Direct searches during this period are vital, with Accord’s data showing that between 5th June to July 3rd 2017, direct search bookings rose by a staggering 20.76%.
By simply making your brand more visible in the months leading up to the “lates” booking period, you can enhance brand recall so that when your potential customers begin searching for last-minute travel options, your brand is front of mind.
With almost 30 years’ experience in the travel, tourism and hospitality, Accord are experts in devising and delivering marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, increase consumer interest and, most importantly, secure bookings. To learn more about how we can help your brand take full advantage of the “lates” market, get in touch - quickly!