After analyzing holiday bookings made by travel agents via
the ARC MarketPlace from 2013-2015, ARC is predicting a trend of longer holiday
trips further from home that are booked earlier.
“All of this depends on the economy, of course, but it looks
like our economy is improving,” said Edyta Satchell, ARC’s director of product
management and the head of the MarketPlace.
The ARC MarketPlace is a business-to-business tool that
enables travel agents to book tours, activities and car rentals among other commissionable
products. Satchell said the MarketPlace has over 10,000 unique users. A unique
user could be anything from a single travel agent to an agency of any size.
ARC recently released data from holiday bookings made via the
MarketPlace for 2013 through this year thus far, specifically focusing on
November and December. The data highlights when bookings were made, the most
popular destinations and the most popular tours — both domestically and
internationally — for Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas week and New Year’s Eve
For instance, around Thanksgiving week in 2013, the most
popular destinations were Rome, Paris and New York City, and the most popular
tours overall were “skip the line” options at the Vatican, followed by an
Imperial Rome Afternoon Tour and a Paris shopping tour. Most bookings (49%)
were made in November, with 19% in October and the balance (32%) before
So far this year, more people booked Thanksgiving week
travel earlier overall; 26% was booked earlier than October, 34% was booked in
October and 40% was booked in November (through Nov. 16). The most popular
destinations, in order, were Paris, Rome and New York City. This year’s most
popular tours overall were a rail tour out of Panama City, a three-day tour
from Uluru to Alice Springs in Australia and a three-day safari out of
After looking at the data, Satchell said she was unsurprised
with the prevalence of New York City and Las Vegas in the data each year.
Regardless of seasonality, they are always popular destinations, she said. Each
city makes the top five list of travel to domestic locations throughout the
months of November and December every year, and also appear on lists of most
popular destinations worldwide.
Satchell also identified the trend that travelers are going
to places further from home, like Sydney and London. She said those types of
trips will typically last longer than trips to destinations like New York City
that can be explored in just a few days, whereas a trip overseas usually means
dealing with longer travel times and jet lag.
Total worldwide sales for December this year show London is
ranked fourth and Sydney fifth, behind Paris, Rome and New York City. In 2013,
only two international locations made the list of top total December sales:
Paris, which was first, and London, which was fifth. Sandwiched between the two
were New York City, Las Vegas and Oahu.
“It means, really, that people are willing to spend a little
bit more — that people can afford that,” she said.
In addition to trips further from home that are costing more
money, the results are also indicative of a trend of agents booking travel for
their clients earlier, according to Satchell.
For instance, in 2013, 26% of Christmas week
bookings were made earlier than November; that number increased to 31% in 2014.
As of Nov. 16, 71% of Christmas week travel was booked earlier than December,
but that percentage will likely decrease as late November and December bookings
are factored in.