Greenlight Research - UK: Holiday searches up 42% with North America making the greatest gains

Searches for holidays online in January were up a massive 42% on November 2011 levels, according to the latest quarterly research from Greenlight covering consumer search behaviour in the holiday sector. This may in part, perhaps, have been driven by savvy consumers looking to book holidays early and additionally pre-empting last week's budget announcement in which Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the double inflationary increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) to all destinations commencing 1 April 2012.

Greenlight's report, ' Holidays Issue 12', which profiles search behaviour in the holidays sector, based on analysis of online search-related data sourced from Hydra's One Platform, a leading provider of SaaS tools for digital marketers, found there were more than 4.4 million searches conducted online using holiday-related keywords in January, compared to 3.1 million in November 2011.

North American holiday searches made dramatic gains

Whilst searches for holidays within Europe remained the most popular, accounting for a 39% share of consumer online holiday-related queries, actual search volumes were down on November 2011 levels. It was the same for holiday searches to Africa, which in November 2011 had been well ahead of North America.

North America made the highest gains holiday query-wise. UK consumer search volumes totalled 305,948 in January compared to 186,740 in November 2011. This saw the region's share of holiday-related queries increase from 15% in November to 21% in January.

The Caribbean & South America, Far East & Australasia and the Middle East & South Asia also made good gains.

Table 1: Number of searches by Geographic region (November 2011 and January 2012)


Geographic Region

Number of searches

% share

January 2012





North America








Caribbean & South America




Far East & Australasia

132, 655



Middle East & South Asia



November 2011













North America




Caribbean & South America




Far East & Australasia




Middle East & South Asia



Source: Greenlight (Powered by Hydra)

Thomson and Virgin most visible sites and increased their lead

Greenlight's report also analysed which brands and review sites were the most visible in both natural* and paid media results and hence received the greatest share of consideration when UK consumers searched for holidays on Google UK.

Searches for holidays to short haul destinations (largely within Europe) totalled 570,000 in January 2012 and Thomson maintained its lead as the most visible site to consumer searches in natural search . It achieved a 79% share of visibility, an increase of 15% compared to November 2011.

Virgin Holidays likewise maintained its lead as the most visible site for long haul holiday destinations increasing its share of visibility from 53% in November 2011 to 59% in January 2012.

However, with news reports* that the APD rise will add about £250 to the cost for a family of four flying to Florida and around £360 more to the cost for a four-person family flight to Australia, it remains to be seen if UK consumer online searches for holidays to the currently popular geographic zones, as highlighted in Greenlight's report, might be impacted.

*Metro (London), 22 March 2012

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