Paris is back, Rio is rising, and now is the time for travel agents to start making those calls to build their summer business, says a report released today by travel tech company Sojern.
Now is “the time of year when people tend to get excited about travel a long way away,” said senior vice president Stephen Taylor. “When January and February come around we all have these good intentions to start looking, start thinking, start planning.”
Agents can take advantage of this period by reaching out to customers and qualifying them now, before interest fades.
So where are they headed? In 2016, it looks Europe, Istanbul, and above all, Rio.
Brazil readies for a big 2016
In Sojern’s rankings of long-haul travel destinations, Brazil was the biggest mover in 2015, up nine spots to position 14 among U.S. travelers and 12 spots to number 5 among Europeans.
The country—and Rio de Janeiro in particular—looked ready to benefit from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games (though the data, collected before the Zika virus hit the news, is perhaps no longer completely reliable).
Still, “the Olympics and the halo affect around the Olympics is greatly affecting Brazil,” Taylor said.
But even while many are dreaming of Carnivale, it’s still not in the top tier of sought-after destinations by U.S. travelers, as opposed to an eternal destination like London, which remains a top draw every year.
“Rio is in the next tier, it’s a dream destination for many, but it’s not in the world’s top 20 destinations,” he said.
Across the Atlantic, Sojern’s report shows just how quickly travel can rebound to a destination facing bad news.
Travel searches and bookings to Paris saw a week-on-week decline of 43% on November 20, after the terror attacks, and the bad news echoed across the Continent; searches and bookings to London dropped 23%, to Brussels 34%, to Munich 23%, to Rome 25%, and to Amsterdam 20%. But not for long.
“The most reassuring thing in some ways is how quickly people start picking back up again and engaging,” Taylor said. “Paris is back right where it belongs, people are going, people are traveling, and there’s no particular hangover effect now.”
Other hot destinations
On the other hand, Turkey, and Istanbul in particular—a city that has been skipped by a number of major cruise lines—stayed in the top 10 overall for global travel. “Turkey is going to be a very interesting one to watch. It’s a huge tourism destination overall and much bigger than a lot of people not in the industry would know,” Taylor said.
When Sojern compared the top 10 most searched countries versus the booked ones, Turkey made the top 10 for searches, but not for bookings.
“It plays to the data that we should be thinking about, particularly for travel agents. This gap between what people search for and end up what people are doing to the extent it can be understood and exploited,” he said.