Google search trends for the travel industry: 2018 to present

Last updated: September 2022

Knowing what’s trending and why is essential for any business looking to stay competitive, responsive and one step ahead of the curve. One of the best ways of doing that within a particular niche or industry is to observe and analyse search trends in Google.

The specific things that people are searching for, whether it’s in response to something that is current or part of a new shift that has been months or even years in the making, delivers a lot of valuable insight that can be used to develop existing or new services or products, create new deals, and, of course, boost revenue.

This report – one of many we deliver on specific categories and industries – is for those of you operating in the travel industry. The aim is to provide you with a broad overview of search trends relating to different types of holidays, with some analysis thrown in for good measure.

The method

Every month we track and record a number of travel industry-related searches made on google.co.uk across the following categories:

  • Cruises
  • Camping
  • Hotels
  • Flights
  • Car hire
  • Package holidays
  • Holiday rentals
  • Airbnbs

This equates to over 34 million searches and over 5,000 unique keywords (depending upon the time of year).

This includes more general keywords such as ‘cruise’, which is searched for 74,000 times per month on average.

It also includes more specific keywords. Again, relating to cruises, you’ll find location-specific cruises like ‘mediterranean cruise’, which is searched for 14,800 times per month on average.

By aggregating this data on a monthly basis, we can see how demand rises and falls for different types of holidays, which you can use to make business and marketing decisions.


General trends

Demand for getaways is seasonal

No great surprises here: people in the UK like to get away in the summer. Aggregating all holiday types, we see search demand jumps up in May, typically peaking in July and petering off in September.

January is also typically a high volume month across all categories – excluding camping – as users typically try to grab a great deal after Christmas.

Airbnb searches on an upward march

From April 2018, the number of searches made using a keyword with the Airbnb brand name – e.g. ‘airbnb london’ – continues to trend upwards, albeit with seasonal fluctuations. Searches made in April 2022 vs April 2018 were up by 221%.

This should be taken with a pinch of salt, as Covid-19 has not only starved people of international holidays but also allowed more people to work remotely (potentially from Airbnb getaways), suggesting attribution should be split between the brand and the market (with great difficulty).

Noteable dates

July 2020: first summer of Covid-19

A national lockdown starting in March 2020 meant that any type of holiday, whether domestic or international, was off the cards.

That didn’t deter people from being hopeful, with searches for certain holiday types increasing. For example:

  • Camping saw the biggest uplift in the summer of 2020, up by 111% comparing July 2020 vs July 2019
  • Holiday rentals saw a big uplift in the summer of 2020, up by 70% in comparing July 2020 vs July 2019
  • Other holiday types unsurprisingly declined: flights fell by -43%, hotels by -12.8% and package holidays by -87%

May 2021: recovery from second Covid-19 lockdown

May 2021 saw demand jump up above 2018 and 2019 levels. And since May 2021, demand has remained higher than in previous years (e.g. June 2021 is higher than June 2019 and June 2018).

Interestingly, demand in May 2021 for hotels also shot up, a trend that was not observed for flights or package holidays. This indicates the increase in demand was mostly for domestic holidays.

January 2022: post Covid-19 bump

In January 2022 searches for flights and package holidays reached similar pre-Covid-19 levels – and, as of February 2022, searches have been the highest we have recorded going back to April 2018.

This suggests that this year people have been more willing to travel abroad for a holiday, with demand at its highest since we started recording in 2018. It’ll be interesting to see if the cost of living crisis has an impact on this. We’ll definitely let you know!