The Lost Summer – What Google Can Tell Us About Tourism Bookings in 2024

The weather in the UK this year has been notably varied and often unsettled, you could say more grey than a E.L. James novel.

The year began with a wet and dull April, which saw only 79% of the long-term average sunshine and 155% of the average rainfall​ (Met Office Blog)​. June was particularly disappointing for those hoping for summer weather, as it remained cool and wet due to the jet stream’s position, which brought cooler winds from the Arctic​ (The Independent)​.

So how have potential holiday makers responded to the uncertainty of booking a summer holiday here in the UK? Let’s look at the stats.

Let’s start with people searching for a “hotel in Cornwall” we can see the two big spikes during COVID and the staycation boom of 2020 and 2021. Still plenty of search queries in 2022 especially towards the summer, a little less again in 2023 and then a huge drop in 2024.

Even during the first week of January, which would typically see an influx of users on Google searching for their summer holiday, dropped 33% year-on-year comparing 2024 to 2023.

Looking at a much higher volume search term “holidays in Cornwall” tells us the same story. The boom of the COVID years followed by the riding the tide of 2022 and 2023 are well and truly over.

So does this mean everyone is making a run for the sunshine?

Not in this case.

Check out “cheap flights” as a trend, a huge dive in searches when COVID hit followed by an increase and then levelling out – but nowhere near the higher searches of 2020 and before.

It prompts one to consider why 2024 is turning into a lost summer for UK tourism. Factors such as a poor weather outlook, an early Easter, and increasingly stringent living standards all contribute to this unfortunate situation.

So if you run a tourism driven business what should you be doing to protect your bookings in 2024 and line you up for a successful 2025?

Let’s take a look.

Offer Special Deals & Packages

Sadly the days of special offers being reserved for winter are over. With more competition (many companies born during the COVID boom) and less people looking to holiday, a unique and competitive offer is essential even in high season.

These offers are best promoted via Google Ads and Paid Social platforms and to your established mailing list.

Lean On Local

Segment some of your marketing budget to target people within a couple of hours drive. A hyper-local staycation campaign can boost bookings. Focus on the home away from home vibe, easy parking, offer flexible booking and cancellation policies to reassure guests who are hesitant to commit.

Play The Long Game Invest In SEO For AI

Regardless of the weather or economic trends, people still desire to go on holiday. However, one significant development will create opportunity for some, and losses for others: Google’s massive shift to AI adoption in search. The new Generative Search Experience is expected to drastically reduce click-through rates to websites. Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare for the new look of Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Stay Ahead Of The Trends

Continuously monitoring market trends and guest preferences is essential for adapting your marketing strategies effectively. By conducting thorough market research and staying informed about industry shifts, you can remain agile and responsive. Additionally, collecting and analysing guest feedback helps identify areas for improvement, allowing you to tailor your offerings to better meet guest needs and expectations.

So is summer of 2024 the lost summer or is this the new normal after a wild few years with COVID? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Christian Thomson

Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.
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