Blue Monday becomes Blue January for online travel industry

The third Monday in January (falling on Monday 18th in 2016), nicknamed ‘Blue Monday’, is supposedly the most depressing day of the year when many indulge in a bit of online retail therapy or go hunting for this year’s summer holiday.

Created in 2005 by a British holiday company, the idea came from a ‘calculation’ involving factors such as the weather and debt (presumably following the festive season). While it may have no foundations in science, it’s certainly made its way into the public mindset and although this event is nowhere near as big as Black Friday, the travel industry has well and truly claimed Blue Monday as theirs.

The Golden Quarter of 2015 was a phenomenal success for online retailers and PCA Predict reported live on the ecommerce highs and lows. So it was really exciting to learn, from our resident data scientists, that this good fortune had spread into January for the online travel industry too.

Compared to January 2015, there was a 48% increase in people booking holidays online, however, Blue Monday wasn’t necessarily the most popular day. In fact the busiest day of the month was Monday 4th January as most people headed back to work for the first time after the Christmas break – too depressed to work they set their browsers to search for images of far off exotic lands.


Large format devices key for travel bookings

Over the festive period you may recall that we reported massive spikes in mobile traffic for online retail. Fast forward into January 2016 and the same can be said for the online travel industry, with 25% of travel consumers making reservations via mobile phones. More significantly, while in the build-up to Christmas it appeared that shoppers had started to turn their backs on tablets, in January 2016 however, our love of tablets was reignited. When looking at the yearly average, there is a proportionate increase in usage for bigger screen devices such as tablets, and a drop-off in the smaller screen mobile devices.

Another January theme tune has been “Easy like a Sunday Morning”. On Sunday 3rd January 28% of us grabbed a coffee, croissant and our tablet to make our holiday bookings, the following four sundays in the month also followed a similar increase pattern. Results from our annual Online Hotel Survey for 2016 revealed that large format and professional photography was a UX must when it came to booking a hotel online, browsing and booking via a large format device such as tablet certainly lends itself better to viewing photos of the hotel or resort.

So was it a Blue Monday or Blue January?

On every Monday throughout January 2016 there was a spike in activity, which declines as the week goes on. With last week heralding the long awaited January payday, we saw the trend continue, strongly signifying that that online travel bookings aren’t tied to Blue Monday,  in fact the whole of January is when online consumers look to make their travel reservations giving us a ‘Blue January’.

According to research carried out by Travel Supermarket, 42% of Brits say websites play a big part in their holiday choices, therefore I would advise that individual hotels and travel websites monitor their own peak days and devices, and test which journeys and call to actions work for their customers. The same research revealed that over a quarter of us take two to four weeks to actually plan and book our holiday, in this competitive market any hotel, airline or bookings site that can make the final online checkout or reservation as simple and user friendly as possible will be the ones that catch and convert the ‘wanderlusters’ among us.

CTA Researcher to reservation