For Travel Marketers, The 'January Jump' Is A Big Missed Opportunity

In the travel industry, it’s somewhat of a “public secret” that January is one of (if not the) top months for researching and booking travel in many parts of the world. In the U.S. alone, up to 65 million travelers take flight and enjoy spring break getaways. Year after year, we see this surge in spring and summer travel searches during January and throughout the first quarter, the so-called “January jump.”

But not all that many travel marketers actually take advantage of this frenzied consumer interest in travel deals and new destinations, and if they do, there’s always some room for finessing strategies and targeting methodologies. Even though historically there are more travel searches in Q1 than in Q2, more marketers concentrate their budgets in Q2 and summer. That can mean that they mostly miss out on the lift effect of the January jump and the opportunity to get on the travelers’ radars as they are actively researching destinations, flights and hotel rooms. 



Whether you’re a tourist board, hotelier, airline, or really any member of the travel industry, understanding Spring Break travel trends would allow you to plan the most strategic campaigns and get travelers thinking about your brand before they book. Let’s take the Caribbean—a classic Spring Break spot—as an example. Turns out that 40% of spring break travel to the Caribbean is by parties of two or more: couples and families, with 73% of families looking for trips of 4-7 days; compare that with solo travelers who are mainly looking for short trips. 

Knowing all this can help you plan your up-selling or package efforts. For instance, you should consider targeting family travelers differently than solo travelers: ads for family packages should promote extended stays or week-long getaways, whereas ads for solo travelers should focus on shorter stays.

But you don’t need to be a Caribbean travel marketer to take advantage of this knowledge - after all, some of the most popular spring break destinations are within the US. The bottom line is: do something thoughtful about the differences that come with the January surge! There’s a significant surge in spring searches in Q1 (39% of Q1 searches are for spring and summer travel) and we are seeing a 21% YoY increase in Spring Break travel searches in February alone.

Travelers are often location- and brand-agnostic when they start planning holidays. In fact, travel industry analyst and advisor Henry Harteveldt notes that one in five travel planners doesn’t actually know where they want to go when they start searching for a vacation destination. So use insights about which events drive North American travel, as well as general summer travel trends to prepare strategic campaigns — and launch those campaigns early. 

Consider using video to get their attention: 106 million of YouTube’s unique users are travelers — three in five of those watching travel videos use them to “narrow down their brand, destination or activity choices,” according to Google. But don’t stop with video. Use a multi-platform strategy to drive real results for capturing travelers early — prospecting and retargeting users with Facebook, YouTube, native ads, mobile, display, and more.

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