Flight search infographic: New York accounts for 34% of U.S. flight searches

Here at Experian Hitwise we are always looking for new and interesting ways to visualise our data. Our research team in London have been particularly inspired by the work of David McCandleless and his brilliant book “Information is Beautiful”. With this in mind I have created two new bubble charts which visualise flight searches by the UK Internet population.

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This first visualisation shows the relative popularity of destinations that the UK Internet population want to fly to. You can see immediately that Spain and the United States are the most popular countries; together they account for over 30% of all flight searches in the UK. The all encompassing blue bubble represents all flight searches made in the 12 weeks ending 27 August 2011, so all of the blue bits in the middle represent flight searches to other countries which are not included in the top 10.

The second visualisation goes into a bit more detail regarding specific destinations people are searching for.

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As you can see, I have included here how popular each of the countries are as a percentage of total flight destination searches. For example, Spain in the big pink bubble accounts for 17% of all flight searches to a destination. Within those country bubbles are smaller destination bubbles, so Alicante accounts for 9.2% of all flight searches to Spain. What’s interesting here is to see the relative dominance of some of the top destinations within a country. 1 in every 3 searches for a flight to the US for example is for a flight to New York, whereas 10.4% of all Greece-related flight searches are for a flight to Corfu.

One of the trends that struck me as I was pulling this data together is the different ways that people search for a particular destination. For the mature markets like Spain, the US and Greece, people have a higher tendency to search for flights to a specific destination such as Malaga, Las Vegas or Crete. For less mature markets like Cyprus and Turkey, people are more likely to search for flights to the country: ‘cheap flights to Turkey’ rather than a destination search such as ‘cheap flights to Bodrum’.

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Generally speaking, as a country’s tourism market becomes more mature and the UK population becomes more familiar with specific destinations available, the percentage of generic country-based searches will go down. One notable exception is Australia, which has a mature tourism market but only has 31% of flight searches related to a specific destination. This may have something to do with the distances involved with flying to Australia, and because flights tend to be quite expensive, people are more interested in getting to Australia first, and less worried about where in Australia they go to.

As you might expect, internal flight searches within the UK are heavily destination based with people intimately familiar with the destinations they wish to fly to. The 2% of country based flight searches in the UK were for flight searches to Scotland.

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