Local Perspectives: Christmas travel habits

December 16, 2017

In our final installment of the Local Perspectives series on Christmas, we take a look at consumer Christmas travel habits through the lens of our Trendspotters in LA, London and Tokyo. This is a season consistently perceived as time with family and loved ones – even in Japan, where it’s seen as a romantic holiday rather than a family one. With this in mind, we explore whether travel abroad during the festive season is seen as impediment on family festivities or in fact, a way of taking advantage of allocated leave.


‘Home’ is where the heart is

In the West, Christmas is often seen as a chance to relive our childhood memories and traditions – we like to hear the same carols, watch re-runs of cheesy movies and grumble about grandma’s hideous knitted jumpers (or wear them proudly and ironically). Adverts are one to perpetuate this belief, with the likes of Tesco Ireland focusing on ‘hosting’ the iconic meal at grandma’s house and Crate & Barrel’s commercial in the US that follows a similar theme. Staying at home or at a family member’s house is promoted over a getaway.

“We are very traditional in the UK, we tend to go home to our families and spend the day together – extended family included. When it comes to partners, you tend to spend one day with their family and one day with yours, or you get everyone together.”
Charlie, London

“Japanese people think that Christmas Eve is for spending time with your romantic partner. Single people will have parties with friends. Young families may celebrate it together.”
Alisa, Tokyo

Foresight Factory consumer analytics and trends agency, Trendspotter Charlotte

But travelling domestically during the festive season certainly seems to be the norm when the reason for taking a trip is to visit family. American Express found that over half of those in the US say that this is the main motivation for travels made during the holidays, which makes sense as many American families are geographically splintered across the country and travel may actually be a requirement for family time.


Other barriers for holiday travel: time and money

On the other side of the pond, last year Visit England reported that 64% of people planned to visit friends and relatives during the festive season – but what about international travel or taking a trip somewhere without any sentimental attachment, just for the fun of it?

Even the consumers that might consider this type of travel still encounter a number of barriers. When it comes to holidays, Expedia found great variations in how much paid time off work people receive globally. Interestingly, employees in those countries with less allocated allowance are also not as likely to use it, suggesting a financial motivation to hold back on trips. Furthermore, according to Expedia, difficulty in coordinating time off with family can result in not taking leave at all.

In particular in countries like Japan, where Christmas is not a traditional holiday, the typical family-related barriers don’t apply, and others such as time and cost become more relevant.

“I think the biggest factor for people not to travel is for financial reasons. Furthermore, people may not travel if they do not have a close knit family where traditions are not important to them. Lastly, people may not be able to get time off work so traveling is not for them.”
Kristin, LA

“Traveling from Japan and even within Japan is pretty costly compared to Europe, so people might stay home for economical reasons. People aren’t staying home because it’s Christmas.”
Alisa, Tokyo

Dreaming of an escape

However, this doesn’t mean that consumers aren’t dreaming of a getaway. We conducted a Social Media Listening scan on seasonality, identifying peaks in travel chatter when it came to Wishlisting destinations at Christmas. Both our US and Tokyo Trendspotters mentioned Hawaii as a popular destination for Christmas holidaymakers, indicating a consumer desire to experience some sun instead of snow, for a change.
Hawaii a popular Christmas destination?

“Beach destinations like Hawaii and the Caribbean are popular to get away from cold weather. People in the US also go to Mexico specifically Cabo on the West Coast. Tulum is also becoming a more popular destination for Americans as well which is also in Mexico. ”
Kristin, LA

“People go on vacation at the end of December until early January. A very popular destination during this time is Hawaii .”
Alisa, Tokyo


This is part three of our Local Perspectives: Christmas series. Head here for part one on budget and spend or here for part two on food and indulgence.


Written by Laura Van Eeckhout

Laura is one of Foresight Factory's Account Directors, overseeing the relationships with global clients across a range of industries, including travel, retail and FMCG. She also heads up the company's Global Trendspotter Network.

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