by Diane Kraemer

Believe it or not, we are rapidly approaching the end of 2016, and you know what that means – the holidays are near. To many Americans, the holidays means traveling to visit family and friends. In fact, travel increases 54% over the Thanksgiving holidays and 23% over Christmas and New Year’s. We’ve taken a look at past trends to get a better idea of what motivates the winter holiday traveler and what marketers could do to get their attention.

They travel to be with their family and friends

Families these days are often times far-flung across the country, and the holidays are often a great reason to get everyone together. That being said, it’s not a surprise, but the  single biggest reason for holiday travel is to visit friends and family. From a travel marketer perspective, it could benefit to target out-of-town guests, families, and college students home on break during the holidays, depending on who your target audience is.

They stay within the United States for the holidays

Holiday travel is overwhelmingly domestic – 99% of Thanksgiving travelers and 97% of Christmas and New Year’s travelers stay within the United States during their trips.

Most drive to their destination, and some even make it a day trip

While many people do travel over the holidays, they don’t travel too far – 91% of Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travelers drive, and about half of those trips are only for the day. It’s also not surprising that those that stay overnight on these holiday trips will stay an average of 3 nights over Thanksgiving, and a little bit longer, 4 nights, for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

If they have to fly, they book ahead to save money

For most, holiday travel isn’t just a last-minute thing – travel consumers know in advance that they have to visit family and are planning well ahead of time for the holidays. Of course, there are those last minute travelers, but they are few and far in between, accounting for only 7-10% of flights that are booked the week prior to departure during the holidays. For travelers that fly, the best fares and highest savings for booking are:

  • For Thanksgiving: Week of October 17th
  • For Christmas: Week of November 21st
  • For New Year’s: Week of December 5th

Holiday travelers love travel hacks

Marketers, pay attention – whether it’s because they don’t travel a lot during the year or they are just interested in getting more educated before traveling, holiday travelers love travel hacks. YouTube video searches for travel hacks have grown 115% from the previous year, with more than half of those searches coming from mobile. Overall, online search for travel hacks has gone up 16x in 4 years.

Holiday travelers like all the pretty colors

It may sound cheesy, but colored visuals increased consumers’ willingness to read content by 80% and ad recall by 82% so don’t forget to take that little bit of extra effort to make your ads look extra pretty for the holiday travelers.

As we approach the holiday season, marketers should keep these stats in mind to really understand the behaviors of travel audience and create a marketing strategy that resonates with them.