Thomas Cook reports 113% increase in mobile holiday searches

A 113% rise in people using mobiles on to search for holidays between May 2014 and April this year has been unveiled by the operator.

Tablets and smartphones dominate searches whereas desktop and laptop are the preferred choice for actually making a booking.

Thomas Cook’s newly published 2017 Holiday Report highlights the rise in people using their mobiles to search for holidays as a growing trend,

On average, holidaymakers will visit 11 times before completing their booking.

Time spent searching for holidays slowly gives way to time spent booking them and transactions overtake searches around 5pm, before peaking between 8-10pm.

“That is not to say high street travel agencies are a thing of the past,” the report says.

“When asked, 43% of customers said they use shops for research and 60% said they are one of their preferred means of booking.”

A shift away from Spain back to eastern Mediterranean hotspots of Greece and Turkey tops 2018 booking trends identified by Thomas Cook.

Santorini is the surprise entry into the top ten destinations for next  summer, according to the operator.

Long haul destination of Orlando and Cancun in Mexico top the early booking list for 2018.

Larnaca and Paphos in Cyprus both make the top ten, driven by those planning weddings.

Dalaman and Anatalya in Turkey plus the Greek island of Zante and Rhodes all feature with Palma in Majorca being the only Spanish destination.

Thomas Cook warns that the pound is weak and likely to stay volatile for the next 12 months at least.

Security fears also continue to affect certain destinations with Sharm el Sheikh, one of Egypt’s main resorts, still off the map and Tunisia entirely so.

“Good value hotels mean Turkey has seen a bounce back in popularity but the demand is still lower than recent years and bookings come in for old favourites such as Marmaris later than they do for Greece or Spain,” the report says.

“So west is more popular for short-haul at least – but this brings issues of its own.

“The holiday market is very competitive in Spain with lots of flights available, so demand for accommodation is high and as a result hotel rooms are not always cheap.

“Nevertheless, Spain’s popularity endures: combining the islands and mainland, it is still the number one destination for Thomas Cook customers.

“This also leaves Greece having its moment in the sun. Its smaller islands are finding favour with families especially – package holidays to Thassos are up 53% year-on-year, Santorini by 40% and Lefkas by 19%.

Cyprus is also faring well – it is Thomas Cook’s fifth best seller overall this summer.

The long-haul market continues to grow in popularity. Despite some fearing a ‘Trump slump’, bookings to the US are good.

Even compared to a “particularly strong” 2016, the US is the fourth most popular destination with bookings up 10% for this summer.

Flight-only bookings to Boston have increased 116% year-on-year, while Los Angeles has seen a 33% rise.

Mexico is also up 18% year-on-year, helped by the weakness of the peso – one of the few currencies to be down against the pound.

Thomas Cook’s new route from Gatwick to Cape Town is proving popular with the weakness of the South African rand against the pound making an already good-value destination even more affordable.

Meanwhile, package bookings to Goa and The Gambia are up 10% and 7% respectively.

Family package holidays are up 24% year-on-year to Cuba, 39% to Cancun and 17% to the Dominican Republic.

This means that families now account for a third of customers in Cuba and almost half in Cancun and the Dominican Republic.

“Clearly the value of a Caribbean all-inclusive is a decisive factor for parents,” the report says.

Other destinations showing a growth in demand from families include Almeria in Spain, up 27% year-on-year, as well as Bourgas in Bulgaria, up 74%.

“Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt is on hiatus so Brits are looking elsewhere for holidays in this popular country,” according to the report.

“Hurghada is attracting more and more British visitors, reflecting a return to popularity for Egypt’s good value winter and summer sun, though visitor numbers are considerably lower than a few years ago.”

Thomas Cook has also introduced holidays to Marsa Alam as a new winter sun destination to meet increased demand.

“Turkey has had its troubles but is still popular – it’s number three for British customers this summer, although more popular with later bookers, whereas those booking six months to a year ahead tend to choose Spain and Greece,” the report added.

“Because Turkey’s tourism boom has been relatively recent, its hotel stock is new and good quality – you can get a five-star all-inclusive there for the same price as you would a three- star equivalent in the Balearic islands.

“Egypt can still take heart – Greece’s financial woes in 2015 combined with the refugee crisis saw tourist numbers fall sharply. In 2017 it is firmly in demand. Suddenly, two years seems a very long time ago.”

Thomas Cook UK managing director Chris Mottershead said: “Our Holiday Report shows that savvy families who would have historically travelled to more traditional short-haul sun and beach destinations are expanding their search to make the most of great-value deals.

“We’re seeing children enticed into going away with their parents by more adventurous destinations like Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

“While places like Cancun might have once been thought of as a party destination, the vibrant city has been fast developing into a popular spot for families of all ages, offering everything from lazy days spent sunbathing, to diving and sailing.”

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