End of summer resulted in dramatic decreases in domestic and international travel. The amount of domestic flights booked from within the U.S. saw a 16 percent decrease, and international flights were down 20 percent month-over-month. However, two types of destinations seemed to benefit from seasonal changes and back-to-school travel: U.S. college towns and Central America countries. Read on for our full travel analysis.

Top 10 domestic travel destinations in September

In our third installment of our analysis of emerging travel hotspots, we analyzed the flights booked by U.S. consumers on Expedia, Orbitz and United Airlines in September to detect the top ten domestic and international destinations by MoM changes in flights booked.

First, we found the U.S. domestic travel decreased MoM, with 16 percent more travelers booking domestic flights in August than in September. Another look at the data revealed a reverse trend has emerged, with half of the destinations featured in the top ten lists for MoM increases or decreases in flights booked in September included in the reverse lists in August.

New to this month’s list for increased booking activity are top-ranked Greenville, SC; followed by Greensboro, NC; El Paso, TX; Fayetteville, AR; and San Jose, CA. Notice something? The list includes a number of college destinations which benefited from back-to-school travel.

Top 10 domestic destinations in September with increased MoM flight bookings

# Destination MoM Change
1 Greenville, SC 44%
2 Bozeman, MT 33%
3 Greensboro, NC 30%
4 El Paso, TX 27%
5 Burlington, NC 22%
6 Fayetteville, AR 22%
7 San Jose, CA 21%
8 Syracuse, NY 19%
9 Lihue, HI 18%
10 Grand Rapids, MI 14%

Bozeman, MT took second place for MoM increases in September, after seeing the largest decrease in flights booked between July and August. This month’s biggest loser is Huntsville, AL which enjoyed the largest increase in purchases during August only to top September’s list with an 80 percent drop off.

New to the list of leading destinations for MoM decreases in September were Pensacola, FL; Maui, HI; Norfolk, VA; Des Moines, IA; and Oakland, CA. The decreased activity around Florida and Hawaii are most likely a result routine end-of-summer travel adjustments, Virginia could be losing bookings due to military changes, but it is hard to understand why Iowa and California lost so many bookings MoM.

Top 10 domestic destinations in September with decreased MoM flight bookings

# Destination MoM Change
1 Huntsville, AL -80%
2 Pensacola, FL -70%
3 Springfield, MA -62%
4 Santa Barbara, CA -61%
5 Maui, HI -55%
6 Little Rock, AR -50%
7 Norfolk, VA -45%
8 Des Moines, IA -43%
9 Oakland, CA -43%
10 Sioux Falls, SD -41%

International Travel in September: Top 10 emerging hotspots

During September the number of Americans that purchased flights to international destinations was cut by a fifth. Southbound travel followed more temperate conditions to Guatemala, El Salvador and Venezuela, making them the only international destinations in the list with increased MoM booking activity.

Here too we see evidence of the reverse travel trend with 4 out of the 10 countries that made the list for MoM decreases in September featured in August’s list with impressive MoM increases. For example, July’s attempted coup in Turkey brought in 82 percent more U.S travelers in August, as savvy travelers took advantage of rate cuts. However, the effect was short lived, as Turkey lost a little more than half of the travelers during September.

The rest of the list seems to be driven by seasonality effects, with Croatia, The Bahamas Netherlands Antilles, Jamaica and Greece seeing decreased booking activity as cooler weather, shorter days and possible storms came their way.

# Country MoM Change
1 Croatia -81%
2 Venezuela 65%
3 Netherlands Antilles -65%
4 El Salvador 63%
5 Guatemala 63%
6 Ecuador -60%
7 Bahamas -57%
8 Turkey -54%
9 Jamaica -52%
10 Greece -49%

Bottom Line: Looking at August-to-September showed us what appeared to be the impact of the end of vacation season, back-to-school, cooling  temperatures in the northern hemisphere, and shorter days. Our next installment, will most likely demonstrate the impact of winter sports, home for the holidays, and warmer climates on U.S. travel, both within the country and internationally. Join us next month for our Winter Wonderland of clickstream data!