As we approach the 1st Anniversary of COVID lockdowns in the UK there is little doubt that the British public are desperate for a holiday! But what are people looking for? We delved into the mirky data quagmire of Google Keyword Planner to see what we could learn about the aspirations of the British public for their next holiday.
Exotic Holiday Plans
Based on researching over 7,000 holiday keywords the highest search for term, by far, in January 2021 was “Maldives holidays” with 110,000 searches. Search interest for this keyword has traditionally peaked in January with 135,000 searches in January 2020 and 2019. “Honeymoons to Maldives” had a whopping 12,100 searches this January, nearly double the January 2020 searches of 6,600 and nearly 3.5 times higher than January 2019’s 3,600. “Maldives package” has also seen an unprecedented uplift in searches with 12,100, 9 times higher than January 2020’s 1,300 searches and 7.5 times higher than January 2019’s 1,600.
The shift to searching for a package holiday in the Maldives correlates with the trends reported in the travel industry media that Abta research found that “consumers are 20% more likely to use a travel professional now than before the pandemic, with two in five citing the security of a package holiday (41%) and the travel professional’s up-to-date advice (40%) as the main reasons” (Source: Travel Weekly).
Interestingly, the appetite for other Indian Ocean destinations is not so high. “Mauritius holidays” was the second highest keyword search volume with only 18,100 searches, less than half the number of searches in January 2020; 49,500 and January 2019; 40,500.
The highest UK holiday search term in January was “lodges with hot tubs Scotland” with 22,200 searches. Interestingly, this is actually down on previous Januarys with 33,100 searches in 2020 and 27,100 searches in 2019.
On the other hand, “luxury cottages Cornwall” saw a 3.5 times increase in searches with 12,100 searches in January 2021 vs. 3,600 in January 2020 and up from 4,400 in January 2019. “Luxury cottages UK” has also seen a spike in interest with 8,100 searches this January vs. 5,400 in 2020 and only 1,600 in 2019.
“Cottages with hot tubs Cornwall” has seen a meteoric rise from 2,900 searches in January 2019 and 2020 to 8,100 in January 2021.
The term “UK staycation” saw a similar spike in interest with 8,100 searches in January 2021 vs. 1,900 in 2020 and 1,000 in 2019. Broadly the use of the term “staycation” saw huge proportional increases in usage, however in terms of absolute search volumes only one other keyword exceeded 1,000 searches in January 2021: “best staycation UK” with 1,300.
The trends across the data suggest that people:
- Had a pre-formed regional destination in mind when they searched e.g., Cornwall, Scotland, Devon etc.
- Overwhelming were/are looking for hot tubs
- Were/are willing to pay more for accommodation, indicated by the significant growth in search volumes for staycation terms which include “luxury”. When the travel costs are lower more people were looking for a higher-end stay
- Were trying to replicate usual holiday patterns in the UK with increases in terms such as “pool villa UK”, “luxury villa UK”, “luxury villas Cornwall”< etc.
When it comes to villas there are some clear winners, however the demand compared to previous years is negligible:
|villa for holiday||90,500||110,000||18,100|
|villas in Greece||18,100||22,200||9,900|
|villas to rent||12,100||12,100||5,400|
|villa holidays Greece||6,600||8,100||2,900|
|rent villa Portugal||6,600||6,600||2,900|
|villas to rent in Greece||3,600||3,600||2,400|
|villas on Crete||6,600||6,600||2,400|
|villas to rent in Italy||2,900||3,600||1,600|
Terms which actually saw an uplift in the number of searches compared to previous Januarys include:
- “St Tropez villas for rent” 1,300 vs. 260 in 2020 and 210 in 2019
- “Pool villa UK” 880 vs. 720 in 2020 and 480 in 2019
- “holiday homes with private pools” 880 vs. 480 in 2020 and 390 in 2019
This is all data from before Boris’s Roadmap Out Of Lockdown, shared on 22nd February 2021, which will undoubtedly have shifted search behaviour again.
Unfortunately, we won’t see that data until much later in March, if not April. Nevertheless, there is a very clear appetite in the UK to get away. Whether people were day-dream searching, wishful thinking searching or practically planning there was the usual uplift in holiday planning in January, the destinations, holiday types and timelines simply shifted.
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