One of the benefits of working for a subsidiary of STR is the first access to vast arrays of data. And while the numbers provide a fantastic look at actual performance of any given market, I always like to step back and gauge the sentiment that precedes it: traveler intent.
The notion of intent—or where travelers plan to travel—is hazy at best. It’s one thing to ask, “What destination do you plan to visit this summer?” It’s something else entirely to follow up three months later and ask, “Where did you actual visit?”
Still, traveler intent can be a bellwether to help guide, in part, hoteliers’ pricing and operational strategies.
With that in mind, I came across a nifty little infographic from Expedia last week that I wanted to share. The chart shows the top 10 most-searched-for destinations during July, as well as the top five that posted the largest month-to-month increases and the largest year-over-year increases.
Given the number of bookings made within a 90-day window, it’s a relatively safe bet the number of searches should correspond somewhat to bookings for vacations through the end of the summer and the start of fall.
There were no big surprises in the top 10 most-searched-for markets. Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and others are consistently among the U.S industry’s heavy hitters. Although I can’t help but think Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Virginia—classic warm-weather hot spots—likely will see significant drop-offs in the wake of Hurricane Irene.
The wildcard hot spots—those with the largest month-to-month increases—are interesting. Hoteliers in those markets would be wise to take note of the trend.
And for anyone scratching their head after viewing the rising seasonal trendsetters, let me point your collective memories back to last year’s oil spill in the Gulf. Mobile, Alabama; Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola, Florida, each experienced a noticeable drop off in demand after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The search spikes show tourism is still rebounding almost a year after the tar balls receded (if they were even there in the first place).
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