New Travel Marketing Booking Trends | April is the new January

5 April 2023

As travel marketing experts, we keep up to date and in sync with the latest booking trends for the industry. 

In our latest article we explore is April is the new January when it comes to booking windows? And what does this mean for the rise of non-traditional destinations? There has been a shift in holiday booking patterns over the last couple of years, unsurprisingly. In this article, we explore some of the trends we are seeing and how this can impact your activity.

In travel marketing, what is the traditional early booking period?

Like clockwork, between January and March, post-Christmas and winter-bluesy brits come out of hibernation for long enough to lift their spirits. This early start has been the traditional booking period for many years because researching, envisioning and anticipating your summer holiday is a British pastime. This year is different, however, and could be part of a permanent shift.

Photo by Lance Asper
Photo by louis magnotti
Photo by Joshua Earle

What is causing a shift in booking? 

The winter blues are certainly not getting easier to live with, so why the shift in behaviour? 

You knew this one was coming. The pandemic has been on every set of lips for a good few years now, and even though it's been three years since they announced the first lockdown, the impacts are still affecting us greatly. From the uncertainty of restrictions to catching COVID on your flight, the anxiety travelling brought people meant that many pushed their booking until they knew there was a good chance they would make it to their destination. Or, in some cases, they avoided it altogether. Once the uncertainty started easing slightly, people realised they could still book late and have the same experience, causing a mindset shift and a behavioural change. 

These insecurities and questions that formerly surrounded borders have eased; however, now they're about our wallets. People are pushing back on hitting that book button because they are wondering whether finances will allow it. What will the cost of travel be and how will the exchange rate impact their visit with the current strength of the pound? Or lack of. 

Judging by current trends, the next few weeks to months could be about to liven up with the new booking period, so if these first few months haven’t been so abundant, the tide might be about to turn.

What can international destinations do?

Now is a great time to up the ante. It is not too late to drive a substantial volume of bookings this year, if January to March has not been all it used to be, make the most of the next few months. 

Digital channels are a great way to influence people and drive bookings and will become even more important. Make sure you are reaching both those who already have intent and those looking for inspiration through a combination of paid search and paid social.

Think about your messaging. Gone are the days of the fly and flop. The age of Instagram filters is coming to an end - people want real, online and off. It’s time to highlight the real culture, heritage and authentic experiences you can provide this year. The shift towards a need for more meaningful experiences becomes more apparent by the day, the real difference to your destination will happen when you get these messages to the right audiences. 

You need to stand out from the crowd in incredibly busy spaces, where every destination is competing for attention. Be creative and be informative. Where can visitors sample fantastic locally sourced and authentically cooked food? How do they get to those unusual experiences that are off the beaten track? Make it as easy for them as possible, so they know where to go and how to get to the places they wouldn’t have found without you. 

People don’t need a demonstration of Barcelona; they’ve already done it. Our work with Catalunya centred around championing the off-piste delights that aren’t on the bustling Barcelona streets since there are so many you wouldn’t experience if you didn’t get away from the tourist traps. But that’s the thing with off-the-beaten-track destinations, people need it to be worth their time and effort, or it loses some of its meaning. It’s about maximising their precious resources. That’s why they need to know how to get there and what to do once they are there. 

Market your Value

Despite the cost of living crisis, once people have set their sights on a destination and pressed that booking button, they’re willing to spend to make sure it’s worth it. 

So don’t be afraid to show off those high-end experiences, even in these more frugal times. People are willing to make it work. We see it repeatedly, right across the industry, the most expensive experiences sell first because it’s about selling the value of a moment.

What about domestic tourism? 

Finding a place to stay in traditionally popular UK destinations in the summer is often like finding a teardrop in the ocean. Except the teardrop is a fun little Cornwall B&B booked up months in advance.

The opportunities for lesser-known domestic locations to shout about themselves this year are perfect. If people can’t get their foot through the door in traditional destinations, such as Devon or Cornwall, why not somewhere different? The northeast coastline is beautiful to experience, but unless you have a reason to be there like visiting family, you likely won’t go. Since Devon and Cornwall have been fully ingrained in the British Psyche since the dawn of tourism, it’s time to let people know that not only do you exist, but you’re where it’s at now. So make sure they know that this year.

The framework is universal. It might be a bit different marketing Sunderland to Sitges, but places like Morecambe, which has just received a 50 million investment for the next Eden Project, will turn into a thriving visitor economy. With the coastline right next door, there’s an opportunity to market this as a beautiful place to be to an audience that would not have considered it.  

My Travel Marketing Takeaways  

  • Booking patterns have changed for both international and domestic destinations.
  • April to June will have more impact on international destinations this year.
  • People want meaningful experiences with real heritage and culture, where they know they aren’t just anywhere else in the world.
  • Make it as easy as possible for those visiting you. Make sure if they need to know the optimal way to spend four days with or near you, they can.
  • For domestic tourism, this is the year for the rise of the less traditional destination. Higher-value experiences provide a real opportunity, once people have decided on where to go, they will want to ensure they have a fantastic time and show them what they can do.  

Want more information?

Is your travel organisation or destination seeing similar marketing trends across your bookings for the year? 

If you want to discuss this more with our team of experts, reach out on or head to our contact page for other ways to talk.