An analysis of online traffic in the UK travel sector by Hitwise has revealed peaks period growth of 13%, up on the 8% seen during last year’s key turn-of-year selling period.
The market data, included in a myth-busting report in partnership with Propellernet, with insights from luxury operator Kuoni, found particular growth in cruises and luxury operators (both 16%) and holiday parks and attractions (25%).
However, aggregators saw an 11% growth in traffic, operators 14%, hotel direct sites 18% and airline direct sites 3%. The analysis was based on Hitwise data for the first eight weeks of 2018.
While budget hospitality brand Travelodge saw a 36% increase in searches, Kuoni saw click-through rates rise 51%, inbound calls increase by 47% and store appointments increase by an impressive 171%.
The analysis also looked at household income and whether this had a determining influence online travel search activity in various customer segments.
It found there was a marked difference for young families that earing above and below £50,000 per annum, particularly for searches for parks and attractions.
But for couples with no children and the retired, household income appeared to have little impact on search volumes.
Retirees in both income brackets saw increased search volumes overall and in the three biggest travel growth sectors – cruise, luxury operators and parks and attraction.
However, for young families and couples with no children marginal growth of just 1% and 2% respectively was seen in overall travel searches for those in the higher income bracket.
Both these groups saw reduced search activity in the lower income bracket for cruises, luxury operators and parks and attractions.
The Hitwise report used the data analysis to debunk three myths about the affluent traveller.
Hitwise said its data shows that the market for luxury travel is more diverse than just wealthy individuals with high disposable incomes.
And its data shows that even people with plenty of money are not averse to budgeting. Those in the “world class wealth” segment with annual earnings of more than £150,000 are 32% more likely to visit easyJet compared to the general population.
This compared to just 6% more likely for ‘uptown elite’ customers with household incomes of between £100,000 and £150,000.
Hitwise also concluded that it is a myth that affluent customer are not interested in DIY holidays and looking for deals by using popular price comparison websites.
The ‘world class elite’ segment was 25% more likely to visit Skyscanner, ‘uptown elites’ were 6% more likely to visit Airbnb, ‘premium fortunes’ 15% more likely to visit TripAdvisor and ‘alpha families’ 5% more likely to visit hotel metasearch site Trivago.
Nigel Wilson, managing director of Hitwise, said: “The travel industry, along with the audiences that it attracts, is notoriously volatile and difficult to predict from one season to the next.
“The uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the currency fluctuations that resulted, have dominated consumer spending over the past two years, meaning tourist activity has shifted back and forth in terms of preference.
“From the initial rise of staycations to the resurgence of UK spending abroad, the Hitwise data shows that holidaymakers are returning to confidence, and it is niche offerings that are reaping the rewards.
“The power of segmenting audiences is that you can build a more detailed understanding of individual behaviour.
“It might be obvious that luxury audiences drive searches for packaged holidays, but discovering that they over-index for budget airlines, and are also 25% more likely to visit aggregator sites, proves that one size does not fit all.”
Hitwise monitors the searches of three million brits across Google, Bing, and other platforms, claiming it makes it the UK’s largest analyst of online consumer behaviour.
Access the report here [External]