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Positive signs for the travel sector as hotel & flight searches increases for the first time in 2021

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The figures reveal that for the first time in 2021, consumer interest for both hotels and flights has lifted on a monthly basis. The search interest score attributed to flights averaged 22 during the month of March, a 6% uplift on the previous month and the first monthly increase since December.

Research by Butter, the UK’s only Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) travel agency, has found that UK holidaymakers are starting to ramp up the search for some summer sun, with flight and hotel search interest lifting for the first time this year during March.

Butter’s analysis records monthly search interest levels for both hotels and flights during the course of this year, as well as how this interest compares to a year ago.

The figures reveal that for the first time in 2021, consumer interest for both hotels and flights has lifted on a monthly basis.

The search interest score attributed to flights averaged 22 during the month of March, a 6% uplift on the previous month and the first monthly increase since December.

However, while this positive movement will bring hope for the months ahead, search interest for flights remained considerably lower in March when compared to the previous year (-66%), with a -69% drop for the first quarter of 2021 as a whole versus 2020.

In contrast, the outlook for the hotel industry is more positive. At 39, the average search interest score for March remains considerably lower than pre-covid levels, however, search interest in hotels jumped 12% between February and March. Perhaps more promising is the fact that this average monthly score was 3% higher than a year ago, with seasonal trends suggesting this is only going to grow stronger as the year progresses.

Not only is interest growing, but the money holidaymakers are spending is also increasing. A recent survey by TUI found that families are spending 20% more on their holidays. This increase in spending has been driven by a focus on safety over cost, with consumers opting for better resorts, better travel insurance and a better quality of services while in a foreign country to safeguard against the threat of Covid.

Timothy Davis, Co-Founder and CEO of Butter, commented: “The mere unveiling of our lockdown exit roadmap at the end of February seems to have been enough to boost consumer sentiment within the travel sector, even if this boost only equated to a marginal uplift in search traffic in March.

However, while this is a positive sign, we remain a world away from the previous levels of interest in both flights and hotels and the latest data shows that air ticket bookings alone are down some -89% globally when compared to last year.

Protection against this uncertainty is our best chance of reviving the travel industry this year and money-back guarantees, flexible payment options and the choice to defer trips to a later date can all help to build consumer confidence in this respect.

Booking via a BNPL travel agency like Butter means that consumers can spread the cost of flight and hotel bookings over 10 instalments, interest free, with a small deposit and full payment not required until after the holiday. Not only is this a very easy and convenient way to pay for your trips, but it massively reduces the chance that you’re left out of pocket.”

Table shows the average hotel search interest score by month as well as the monthly and annual change

Month

Hotel Search Interest Score

Monthly/Quarterly Change

Annual Change

January

35

-19%

-53%

February

35

-2%

-47%

March

39

12%

3%

Q1 2020

36

-0.2

-0.5

Data sourced from Google Trends

 

 

 

 

Table shows the average flight search interest score by month as well as the monthly and annual change

Month

Flight Search Interest Score

Monthly/Quarterly Change

Annual Change

January

24

-25%

-70%

February

20

-16%

-71%

March

22

6%

-66%

Q1 2020

22

-21%

-69%

Data sourced from Google Trends

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