Infographic: This Holiday Season, Don't Forget to Pack Big Data

NOVEMBER 16, 2015 • Blog Post • By Quartz Creative


  • There’s a growing marketplace for travel apps that tell us the best time to travel, the best time to buy and when a little flexibility will go a long way toward saving money
  • Big Data is allaying some of the consumer demand for improved travel experiences by providing data tools to improve travel analytics

Learn how new technology is improving the travel experience during one of the busiest times of the year

Twenty years ago, the internet connected consumers with travel industry brokers who no longer needed a brick-and-mortar shop to sell their wares. Yes, the economy looked bright, but the introduction of online, transparent marketplaces drove competition, eased ticket-buying and spurred demand.

Twenty years later, the ubiquity of mobile technology and the seemingly limitless data it produces has redefined the way we plan and pay for our travel experiences and engage with airlines. Airlines are working hard to extract value from the stockpile of Big Data available to them. And consumers are demanding more personalized, intuitive and instantaneous mobile travel products and interfaces.

In an evolving travel space, we’re still learning how technology will affect one of the busiest travel times of the year: the winter holidays. The infographic below is a snapshot of the data driving those trends, and how advancing analytics are harnessing it.

1.There’s a growing marketplace for apps that have mastered predictive analytics, especially when it comes to airfare. For example, travel research company Hopper has mapped out the best times to book for the holidays this year. Some of their findings suggest that travelers generally have little flexibility, so prices for Thanksgiving are always going to be high. Still, there’s some good news—in past years, prices for Thanksgiving have trended about 5-10 percent below previous years. Pro tip: Flying on Thanksgiving Day will be cheapest, of course, as demand is lowest, but travelers can save a little by flying on Friday or Monday instead.

2.Additional research shows that, on average, the best time to book is about 80 days before you travel. But, unlike Thanksgiving prices, Christmas flight prices tend to rise steadily and spike 10 days prior to the holiday. Typically, average round-trip holiday airfare increases by about $1.60 for each day we get closer to Christmas.

3.These kinds of predictions are useful not only for consumers, but for seasonal industries and travel companies. Google Trends analyzes a percentage of web searches to figure out how many were done over a certain period of time. Then, they index and normalize the volume, meaning you can track the index to see the popularity of web searches relative to how many other users are searching at the same time and location. Through mid-2015, data on trends in mobile search volume shows that hotels, tours and attractions, car rentals and cruises all jumped by a 47-49 percent change, year-over-year, from 2014. Search for air travel peaked in July, and was up 4 percent overall compared to 2014.

4.A systematic approach to data can help tourism boards and local shops prepare more precisely for an influx of customers. In the United States, 70 percent of travelers are visiting the Eastern Seaboard or the Midwest over the holidays. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 60 percent of travelers from the Northeast travel to Florida, looking to escape the cold. And, other than NYC, folks from the Midwest are looking to warm up, mainly in Atlanta, Las Vegas and San Francisco. These numbers are useful because knowing when customers are booking helps local businesses adjust supplies and prices to meet demand.