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08 FEB 2023

ANIXE Insights 2023.02: Sunshine Saturday sees January booking boom up 85% from December.

The end of the year wasn't exactly a groundbreaking season for bookings in the travel industry, with reports showing a slowdown compared to recent post-COVID growth. But, just when we thought things were looking a bit grim, the good news came in!

As expected, our figures show that global bookings grew 68% higher in January than in December. The fireworks continue when you consider that January 2023 bookings are up 23% on January 2019 (pre-pandemic) bookings.

If you think that global bookings look fantastic, German travellers recorded a showstopping 85% increase in bookings between December and January, and yes, you did read that right.

Our figures aren't unique either. Travel agencies around the world are now reporting a similar booking frenzy in January. For example, the UK's largest network of independent travel agents, Advantage Travel Partnership, reported that January 2023 bookings across their 700 agents have risen by 75% compared to a year ago.

Skyscanner similarly announced that bookings made through their website were up 30% in the first week of January compared to 2022, Virgin Atlantic saw bookings up 70% for the first weekend of January compared with a year ago, and Hays Travel, one of the UK's biggest travel agents, said bookings on 7 January increased fivefold compared to the same day last year.

So what is going on?

Savvy marketing departments are already branding it 'Sunshine Saturday'.

Joining the ranks of the infamous Black Monday and Cyber Tuesday, Sunshine Saturday is the first Saturday in January when people typically book summer trips. After the festivities of the holiday season end, consumers, faced with a depressing January, are booking summer holidays in advance to give themselves something to look forward to.

Therefore, despite the cost-of-living crisis, it seems like consumers are doing everything they can to afford a holiday. In other words, an annual holiday is no longer a luxury but a necessity; 2023 will certainly be a happy new year for the travel industry.

Let's take a closer look at our hotel booking data to see just how happy.

Get ready for an exciting travel boom! According to ANIXE’s data, bookings have skyrocketed in the past few weeks, with a 68% increase from December 2022 to January 2023. And, the good news doesn't stop there - the global booking numbers are now 23% higher than in 2019! The German market is leading the pack with a phenomenal 85% growth from December and is 18% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Everyone can’t wait to get their suitcases packed!

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German travellers kept their traditional favourites in mind for December 2022, with Spain, Turkey, the US, and domestic destinations taking the top spots. And, it's not just the popular destinations that are seeing an uptick - holiday hotspots like Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Spain are experiencing the fastest growth!

However, America and Spain, both popular destinations before the pandemic, saw a significant drop in demand - 39% and 4%, respectively. On a monthly basis, travel overseas also saw a drop in popularity, falling 16%. Domestic destinations also experienced a twofold decrease in bookings . This seems to be a typical trend, indicating that with the arrival of the new year, the tradition of planning summer travel abroad begins.

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In January 2023, the most popular regions for travellers were Turkey's Antalya, Spain's Palma Mallorca and Egypt's Hurghada. Of course, these destinations were also popular before the pandemic, but Mallorca saw a surge of nearly 10%. Furthermore, the popularity of the other two - Antalya and Hurghada- has increased by 124% and 76%, respectively.

Sad news for Berlin and Las Vegas! These destinations saw large declines, both on a monthly and 4-year basis. Unfortunately, their shares in January 2023 were 22% and 23.5% lower compared to pre-pandemic levels in January 2019. Hopefully, these destinations will bounce back and see an increase in popularity in the future.

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The pandemic has shaken up the travel scene for German tourists. Before COVID-19, Berlin, London, and Rome were the top destinations. However, Berlin has seen a steep decline of over 35% in bookings, and London's popularity has plummeted by a whopping 76%. Rome, on the other hand, has seen a drop of 29%. On a monthly basis, we also noticed faltering interest in domestic destinations like Berlin (13%) and Hamburg (21.9%). But, there's still some hope - Turkey's Side has seen a 41% increase in demand, and Lisbon in Portugal is also becoming a popular destination with a 33% increase in bookings. It seems German travellers are venturing further afield.

Travellers have always been drawn to short trips, with 1-3 day and 7–8-day bookings being the most popular. However, compared to December 2022 and January 2019, there has been a noticeable decrease in demand for the shortest 1–2-day stays. The decrease in demand for short trips could be due to the reduction in business travel, but it could also indicate a shift towards longer, more leisurely vacations. Get ready for some much-needed R&R with extended getaways!

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It's never too early to start planning your next vacation! In December 2022, German travellers were already looking ahead, with a strong interest in booking trips more than two months in advance. However, there was also a decline in last-minute 0–30-day bookings, a trend that was also seen in the same period before the pandemic (in January 2019), albeit to a slightly larger extent. This no doubt allows hoteliers and charter flight operators to feel safer about their contingents, and allows them to better plan their yielding activities.

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For another month, Resfinity booking data shows that groups of 2 and solo travellers continue to be the most common types of travellers. While there was a decrease in the number of single bookings compared to December 2022, which is typical for this time of year, there was a surprising increase in bookings for larger groups of 4 or more, both on a monthly and yearly basis. It looks like more people are choosing to travel with friends and family for their next adventure!

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ANIXE's Resfinity booking data reveals that single and double-occupancy trips tend to be paired with rooms that offer breakfast or no meals. However, in January, there was a noticeable shift, with a significant increase in all-inclusive bookings, both on a monthly basis (21.5%) and compared to January 2019 before the pandemic (44.5%). It seems that travellers are seeking a more comprehensive holiday experience, including all their meals, a sign that leisure travel is driving ‘Sunshine Saturday’ bookings.

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Resfinity's data suggests that prices in the German market have seen a slight uptick starting from the end of the summer high season in October. The primary drivers behind this rise are inflation, higher fuel costs, and increased air transportation expenses. On a per capita basis, booking costs have risen by almost 19% compared to four years ago, and globally, prices have increased by 29%. The question remains whether these price hikes are sustainable in the long term.

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January's Sunshine Saturday arrived at the right time to buck the downward trend in bookings we saw in December. We predict that travel agencies will take full advantage of this new trend in the coming years by preparing fantastic offers to entice would-be-travellers to part with their cash in a similar way retailers take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We are starting to see prepandemic booking trends returning to normalcy.

The pessimists were wrong, again; the ever-present cost-of-living crisis could not prevent record numbers of bookings from being made in January. The future looks bright for the travel industry this year. The move by consumers to view travel as a necessity rather than a luxury will allow travel businesses to increase prices while maintaining high demand.

Will the booking rush continue during the whole first quarter of 2023, or is it just a flash in the pan of sales due to Sunshine Saturday?

We expect similar trends as we saw pre-pandemic, so that means booking volumes will drop until March and then pick up again for last minute Easter holiday reservations. We also expect overbookings in all sun & beach destinations May-September, and even into November for destinations like Hurghada and the Canary Islands.

Stay tuned. Stay safe. Plan your trips.

(Data origin: ANIXE Resfinity Booking Engine. Data originated from the ANIXE Resfinity IBE travel system.)


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