Top 10 emerging travel hotspots: From college towns to exotic getaways

 In Competitive Analysis, Consumer Behavior, Consumer Search Trends, conversion trends, E-commerce Marketing, Featured, Marketplace Report, Popular, Site Analysis, Tech News, Top 10, Travel Trends

Social media has given traveling a whole new meaning. Pictures of people parasailing over remote tropical waters or casually riding camels in the Sahara on a Wednesday have become commonplace on our feeds. First we took five minutes to daydream about Fiji, then we took a deep dive into the top ten emerging travel hotspots booked by U.S. and global travelers. We found that University Park, PA where Pennsylvania State University is located, led the pack for U.S. destinations, while legacy vacation spots, like Palm Springs, saw decreases in flight purchases. The international list was more versatile, covering destinations in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. Read on for our full travel analysis.

College visits dominate the U.S in June

We analyzed online flight purchases on Expedia, Orbitz and United between May and July 2016 to detect domestic and international destination hotspots by month-over-month changes in purchases. In May and June, five of the top U.S. travel hotspots were hometowns to major U.S. colleges including Penn State University and University of Oregon. University Park, PA took first place with a 233 percent increase in flight purchases from May to June.

The increase in popularity for these destinations can be explained by high schoolers visiting colleges after receiving their acceptance letters in the spring. While June’s travel was educational, our data indicates that July’s trips were more for vacation.

Top 10 domestic travel destinations in June by MoM changes

May – June June – July
Destination MoM Change Destination MoM Change
University Park, PA 233% Cedar Rapids, IA 77%
Harrisburg, PA 192% Louisville, KY 63%
Eugene, OR 94% Kauai Island, HI 59%
Greensboro, NC 82% San Luis Obispo, CA 50%
Myrtle Beach, SC 71% Ontario, CA 45%
Wichita, KS 65% Tulsa, OK 38%
Madison,WI 59% Pensacola, FL 37%
Cincinnati, OH 58% Columbia, SC 35%
Springfield, IL 43% Oakland, CA 30%
Boise, ID 32% San Antonio, TX 27%

While college visits were the likely culprit of the increased flight purchases in June, legacy vacation destinations saw the biggest decrease in flight purchases between May and June. Palm Springs was hit the hardest, with a 69 percent month-over-month decrease in purchases.

Leading domestic destinations by MoM decrease in bookings

Destination MoM Change
Palm Springs, CA -69%
Grand Rapids, MI -49%
Cedar Rapids, IA -48%
Green Bay, WI -48%
Tulsa, OK -46%
Louisville, KY -46%
Albany, NY -41%
Colorado Springs, CO -40%
Kauai Island, HI -37%
Pensacola, FL -37%

International travel: Top 10 emerging destination hotspots

International travel had a diverse mix of vacation go-tos, as well as some surprises. Traditional travel spots like Italy and Spain saw a respective 85 and 48 percent increase in flight purchases between May and June. Despite political and economic turmoil, Jordan topped the top ten list with a 1000 percent increase in bookings from May to June, and Venezuela came in at sixth place with a 50 percent increase.

Top 10 international hotspots table by MoM changes

May – June June – July
Destination MoM Changes Destination MoM Changes
Jordan 1000% Trinidad 167%
Belize 191% South Africa 153%
El Salvador 86% Panama 100%
Italy 85% Netherlands 50%
Indonesia 64% Bulgaria 44%
Venezuela 50% Thailand 43%
Spain 48% Colombia 38%
South Korea 42% Ukraine 34%
Czech Republic 38% Egypt 33%
Morocco 33% Vietnam 32%

Bottom Line: Travel has become more accessible for so many people around the world, that “emerging travel hotspots” is true to its name. Domestically, the last three months have been dominated by college travel, while international destinations are more diverse. We will continue to analyze online travel trends and report on emerging hotspots, so stay tuned!   

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