Although most fourth quarter travelers plan their holiday trips in advance, some wait until the month of their departure to actually book. This year, 74% of US travelers – vs 68% for the rest of the world – didn’t book their December trips until, well, December. A comparatively late Cyber Monday has likely contributed to the trend.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, early-bird British travelers were already planning their 2015 summer holidays during the same period. And why not? The winter has been abnormally harsh this year across Europe.
U.S. Travelers Departed Later, Too
Not only did U.S. travelers book later than their international contemporaries, their travel plans also peaked later in December. December 19th, the Friday before Christmas, and December 23rd were the most popular departure dates for U.S. travelers, while global travel was spread more evenly across the month. The first peak travel for Europeans, for instance, was December 5th, opening day of ski season for many resorts.
Length of Stay: Inflections at Both Ends of the Spectrum
Short and sweet vs. long and leisurely? Actually, both trip lengths were popular. Those traveling in Q4 favored either squeezing in a short trip over a couple days (just enough time for hugs and egg nog) or set themselves up for a week – or more – away from home.
As you can see in the chart below, mid-length trips (three to five days) were less popular this season than trips at either end of the spectrum:
Is Last-Minute Booking Here to Stay?
Whether last-minute booking is here to stay for the long term remains to be seen. For now, the trend doesn’t show signs of abating: whether folks returned to their roots or flew to these warm-weather hot spots, booking just in the nick of time was definitely the name of the game. We’ll keep an eye on the trend this year, as Cyber Monday falls a day earlier (November 30th vs. December 1st).
For more insights on trends in travel and travel planning, check out our latest and greatest reports!