In October, if you ask a group of people what they’re looking forward to most, the modal response will be Christmas, New Year or a festive combination of the two. Throughout October, November and December the nights draw in, the mercury plummets and peoples’ minds (and spending) become focussed on presents, turkey and sherry.
As the population wake up bleary eyed on the first of January it doesn’t take long before people start to feel a little bit down. After the highs of the festive season the idea of returning to work and winter dragging on seem insurmountable. People need something positive to focus on and distract them from reality – what could be more positive that a holiday!?
This upsurge in holiday booking activity is known in the industry as “peak” or “turn of year”. Whereas retail “sales jump by an average of 60% to an annual peak in December” the story is completely different for companies selling holidays. It is estimated that up to a third of annual sales are made in the first two months of the calendar year!
There is of course, more to it than needing a post-Christmas distraction. The psychological quirk that makes it easier to make plans for “later this year” rather than “next year” also comes into play – a few days difference makes it feel much more reasonable to plan ahead. There is also the fact that few people can afford to spend on holidays and Christmas in the same month and so wait until January payday arrives.
Of course this isn’t a new phenomenon, travel companies have known for years how important the early part of the year is. They concentrate their marketing spend to target the larger revenue opportunities available, it is easy to argue that this in turn increases sales. With strong psychological explanations and a host of companies enticing people to book it is likely that the current spending patterns are here to stay.
Just make sure you’re on your game in January!