Ready or not, it’s time to start planning for the holidays. While we’re still basking in the glow of a glorious summer, holiday travel is just around the corner. To help, the Fareologists at Bing Travel have delved into their algorithmic crystal ball to issue a preliminary forecast for the 2011 holiday travel season.
Travelers in the U.S. can expect holiday cheer this season as airfare and hotel prices are expected to drop slightly. Compared with last year, domestic airfare is expected to be down 1.4 percent overall, with tickets averaging $302, as opposed to $306 last holiday. Holiday hotel costs are staying virtually flat for three- and-four- star hotels, but five-star hotels are down 8 percent from last year. Take advantage of affordable luxury this season!
Given this summer’s sharp increases, it’s a relief to see travel prices normalize this holiday. Travelers looking to stay in the U.S. should be able to find some great deals this holiday, but those people planning travel to Europe or Asia will likely face a different story unless they plan ahead.
While the U.S. forecast is turning up, spending the holidays abroad will come at a premium this year. Overall, holiday flights to Asia are averaging $1,226 – a 15 percent increase from last year’s average of $1,063. Routes to Europe have also increased nearly 9 percent – from $860 in 2010, to an average of $936 this year. Take heart, we’ve captured our recommendations on how to get the best fares and outlined how Bing can help get the most out of holiday travel.
Celebrate in the sun
While the overall travel forecast is looking relatively merry this season, the biggest savings lie in the hands of those willing to let the destination and date dictate their holiday travel plans. Simply put: Be flexible and follow the deals!
A traditional white Christmas might not be available in Florida, but getaways to the Sunshine State and other warm weather destinations are extra cheap this holiday season, with airfares to Ft. Lauderdale down 21 percent from last year and hotels in Las Vegas down almost 16 percent this year. For travelers open to some holiday fun in the sun, here are the top five lowest holiday price routes to a domestic warm location:
- Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale: $185 in 2010; $165 in 2011 (11 percent decrease YOY)
- Dallas Fort Worth to Houston: $148 in 2010; to 168 in 2011 (14 percent increase YOY)
- Arlington to Fort Lauderdale: $232 in 2010; $184 in 2011 (21 percent decrease YOY)
- New York (LGA) to Fort Lauderdale: $192 in 2010; $194 in 2011 (1 percent increase YOY)
- New York (JFK) to Miami: $234 in 2010; $195 in 2011 (16 percent decrease YOY)
Affordable hotel stays
Travelers won’t have to skimp on their hotel stay this season, as prices for five-star hotels are down more than eight percent from last year, with the biggest savings found on luxury hotels in Cancun, Mexico; Las Vegas, Nev. and New York, N.Y. Across 3, 4 and 5 star hotels, the best hotel values can be found in the following destinations:
- Las Vegas: $189.65 in 2010; $159.82 in 2011 (15.73 percent decrease YOY)
- New York: $489.14 in 2010; $417.98 in 2011 (14.55 percent decrease YOY)
- Cancun: $142.66 in 2010; $125.27 in 2011 (12.19 percent decrease YOY)
- Toronto: $166.61 in 2010; $186.50 in 2011 (11.94 percent increase YOY)
- Washington, DC: $382.10 in 2010; $339.85 in 2011 (11.06 percent decrease YOY)
Don’t let Thanksgiving travel gobble up your cash.
Thanksgiving is traditionally a busy travel week, but the Bing Travel
Fareologists note that shifting your departure dates could save you some cash.
For example, by traveling the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returning
the Sunday after, you could save 8 percent compared to a Tuesday to Sunday trip.
Making international trips fit your budget
Traveling internationally is the most expensive option this season. Overall,
flights to Europe have increased on average, from $860.56 last year to $936 this
year – nearly a 9 percent jump. While airfares to Europe have generally
increased across the board, Madrid represents the lowest average ticket price
destination this holiday. If your heart’s still set on traveling to Europe,
choose from one of the top five lowest holiday price routes to keep costs
- New York (EWR) to Madrid: $676 in 2010; $758 in 2011 (12 percent increase YOY)
- New York (JFK) to Madrid: $710 in 2010; $762 in 2011 (7 percent increase YOY)
- New York (JFK) to Paris: $743 in 2010; $767 in 2011 (3 percent increase YOY)
- Boston to Madrid: $695 in 2010; $780 in 2011 (12 percent increase YOY)
- Boston to London: $725 in 2010; $798 in 2011 (10 percent increase YOY)
Interested in traveling to Asia instead? Overall, flights to Asia are averaging $1,226 – a 15 percent increase from last year’s average of $1,063. If you must, try traveling in December. Prices are trending down that month ($1,091) compared to prices in October ($1,150) and November ($1,153).
How Bing Travel can help
Bing Travel has the tools and tips that travelers need to save time and money on their travel. Bing Travel helps people make smart travel decisions with Price Predictor, an airfare prediction tool that shows whether the lowest fares appear to be rising or dropping and provides recommendations on whether to buy immediately or wait. By analyzing more than 225 billion airfare observations, Bing Travel can give you a recommendation complete with a confidence level and expected price increase or decrease over the next seven days.
The Bing Travel Hotel Rate Indicator helps consumers know at a glance if the offered rate for a hotel is a good deal, based on historical rates. Rate Indicator is available for more than 5,000 hotels in 30 major cities across the country, for reservations up to 90 days in the future.
Travelers can also use the Bing Travel Wish List Facebook app to help fuel their travel dreams and start the planning process. The app allows people to track, share and compare travel ideas with friends through their personal Wish List on Facebook and simultaneously get information and images through Bing Travel.
Bing’s Flexible Search option helps travelers with a bit of wiggle room, visually laying out the cheapest times and destinations for your upcoming travel and allowing you to filter search results based upon your specific preferences. Sometimes, saving money is as simple as flying out three days later or returning just one day early or flying into an unexpected connection city – and Bing Travel helps you see those options and make the smartest decision.
- Kari Dilloo, Bing