Cold Temperatures and Flight Search are Correlated

Patrick Surry - Jan. 31, 2016

Summary

  • Demand for certain warm weather destinations increase sharply as temperatures drop.
  • Demand can increase by up to 1.9% as temperature drops just one degree.  That’s a 19% increase in demand when temperature drops 10 degrees!
  • The correlation between temperature and demand for warm weather destinations is strongest for the coldest origins.
  • Most of the most popular cold-weather escapes are in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida.
  • Although there are destinations that get more popular as temperatures rise, the correlations are generally much weaker.

Cold Weather Travel from Major US Cities

Given the unusually cold winter that much of the US is experiencing, Hopper wanted to know how cold temperatures impact travel search patterns.  We looked at the 200 most popular destinations out of New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and Atlanta to see how daily temperatures over the last year drove demand to different destinations.  We found that a one degree drop in temperature can drive as much as an additional 1.9% in demand.  That’s a 19% increase in demand when temperature drops 10 degrees!  The specific cities and level of correlation vary between the different origins we looked at, and in general the correlation for Atlanta was not as strong as for the other cities, which is most likely due to the fact that Atlanta has milder winters.  

New York

When it gets cold residents of New York head for warm locations.  Figure 1 shows the top 10 markets where travel increases most as New York temperatures drop.  Table 1 also shows exactly what the correlation for each market is.  The closer the correlation is to 1 the stronger the relationship.  When the number is negative it means there is more demand as temperature falls.  The table also shows how much demand changes for each additional degree that the temperature drops.  For example every time that the temperature in New York drops 1 degree, the demand to Providenciales increases by 0.7%.

Figure 1: Most popular destinations from New York when temperatures drop.  Larger dots represent increased correlation with cold temperature.

City

Country

Correlation

Increase in demand per 1 degree drop  in temperature

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands

-0.64

0.7%

Cancun

Mexico

-0.59

0.6%

Nassau

Bahamas

-0.53

1.2%

Miami

United States

-0.52

0.6%

Phoenix

United States

-0.47

0.6%

Georgetown

Cayman Islands

-0.42

0.9%

New Orleans

United States

-0.41

0.5%

West Palm Beach

United States

-0.40

0.5%

Key West

United States

-0.38

0.5%

Fort Lauderdale

United States

-0.34

0.4%

Table 1: Correlation between temperature and demand.

The relationship between temperature and the increase in popularity of travel to warm places can also be seen visually in Figure 2.  When temperature is warm searches for travel to these destinations is low, but as temperature falls searches increase and peak when temperature is at it’s lowest point.

Figure 2: Temperature and search frequency as a function of time for the top 10 temperature driven destinations  from New York.

Boston

When it gets cold Bostonians head for warm locations.  Figure 1 shows the top 10 markets where travel increases most as Boston temperatures drop.  Table 1 also shows exactly what the correlation for each market is.  The closer the correlation is to 1 the stronger the relationship.  When the number is negative it means there is more demand as temperature falls.  The table also shows how much demand changes for each additional degree that the temperature drops.  For example every time that the temperature in Boston drops 1 degree, the demand to West Palm Beach increases by 1.7%.

Figure 3: Most popular destinations from Boston when temperatures drop.  Larger dots represent increased correlation with cold temperature.

City

Country

Correlation

Increase in demand per 1 degree drop  in temperature

West Palm Beach

United States

-0.81

1.7%

Palm Springs

United States

-0.78

1.9%

Fort Myers

United States

-0.78

1.7%

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos

-0.69

1.0%

Tampa

United States

-0.67

1.2%

St. Thomas

Virgin Islands

-0.66

1.1%

Cozumel

Mexico

-0.65

1.4%

Hewandorra

Saint Lucia

-0.65

1.0%

Nassau

Bahamas

-0.64

1.1%

Daytona Beach

United States

-0.63

1.1%

Table 2: Correlation between temperature and demand.

The relationship between temperature and the increase in popularity of travel to warm places can also be seen visually in Figure 2.  When temperature is warm searches for travel to these destinations is low, but as temperature falls searches increase and peak when temperature is at it’s lowest point.

Figure 4: Temperature and search frequency as a function of time for the top 10 temperature driven destinations from Boston.

Chicago

When it gets cold residents of Chicago head for warm locations.  Figure 1 shows the top 10 markets where travel increases most as Chicago temperatures drop.  Table 1 also shows exactly what the correlation for each market is.  The closer the correlation is to 1 the stronger the relationship.  When the number is negative it means there is more demand as temperature falls.  The table also shows how much demand changes for each additional degree that the temperature drops.  For example every time that the temperature in Chicago drops 1 degree, the demand to Palm Springs increases by 1.1%.

Figure 5: Most popular destinations from Chicago when temperatures drop.  Larger dots represent increased correlation with cold temperature.

City

Country

Correlation

Increase in demand per 1 degree drop  in temperature

Palm Springs

United States

-0.66

1.1%

Cozumel

Mexico

-0.66

1.0%

Tampa

United States

-0.63

0.7%

Hewandorra

Saint Lucia

-0.63

0.8%

Phoenix

United States

-0.57

0.6%

Georgetown

Cayman Islands

-0.55

0.9%

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands

-0.54

0.7%

Fort Myers

United States

-0.53

0.6%

San Jose Del Cabo

Mexico

-0.52

0.5%

West Palm Beach

United States

-0.51

0.6%

Table 3: Correlation between temperature and demand.

The relationship between temperature and the increase in popularity of travel to warm places can also be seen visually in Figure 2.  When temperature is warm searches for travel to these destinations is low, but as temperature falls searches increase and peak when temperature is at it’s lowest point.

Figure 6: Temperature and search frequency as a function of time for the top 10 temperature driven destinations from Chicago.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul

When it gets cold residents of Minneapolis-Saint Paul head for warm locations.  Figure 1 shows the top 10 markets where travel increases most as Minneapolis-Saint Paul temperatures drop.  Table 1 also shows exactly what the correlation for each market is.  The closer the correlation is to 1 the stronger the relationship.  When the number is negative it means there is more demand as temperature falls.  The table also shows how much demand changes for each additional degree that the temperature drops.  For example every time that the temperature in Minneapolis-Saint Paul drops 1 degree, the demand to Phoenix increases by 1.2%.

Figure 7: Most popular destinations from Minneapolis-Saint Paul when temperatures drop.  Larger dots represent increased correlation with cold temperature.

City

Country

Correlation

Increase in demand per 1 degree drop  in temperature

Phoenix

United States

-0.75

1.2%

Palm Springs

United States

-0.73

1.4%

For Myers

United States

-0.69

1.3%

Hewandorra

Saint Lucia

-0.68

1.0%

Fort Lauderdale

United States

-0.67

0.9%

Tampa

United States

-0.66

1.0%

Orlando

United States

-0.65

0.7%

Harlingen

United States

-0.63

1.5%

Miami

United States

-0.62

0.9%

Cozumel

Mexico

-0.61

1.4%

Table 4: Correlation between temperature and demand.

The relationship between temperature and the increase in popularity of travel to warm places can also be seen visually in Figure 2.  When temperature is warm searches for travel to these destinations is low, but as temperature falls searches increase and peak when temperature is at it’s lowest point.

Figure 8: Temperature and search frequency as a function of time for the top 10 temperature driven destinations from Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

Atlanta

When it gets cold residents of Atlanta head for warm locations.  Figure 1 shows the top 10 markets where travel increases most as Atlanta temperatures drop.  Table 1 also shows exactly what the correlation for each market is.  The closer the correlation is to 1 the stronger the relationship.  When the number is negative it means there is more demand as temperature falls.  The correlation for travel to warm places during cold temperatures in Atlanta is not as strong as from other locations, such as New York, Boston, or Chicago, however, there is still a visible relationship between cold temperature and search, in particular for travel to the Bahamas.  The table also shows how much demand changes for each additional degree that the temperature drops.  For example every time that the temperature in Atlanta drops 1 degree, the demand to Freeport Bahamas increases by 1.6%.

Figure 9: Most popular destinations from Atlanta when temperatures drop.  Larger dots represent increased correlation with cold temperature.

City

Country

Correlation

Increase in demand per 1 degree drop  in temperature

Freeport

Bahamas

-0.69

1.6%

Puerto Plata

Dominican Republic

-0.57

1.3%

Georgetown

Cayman Islands

-0.54

1.1%

Hewandorra

Saint Lucia

-0.50

1.3%

Accra

Ghana

-0.47

0.9%

Kahului

United States

-0.41

0.8%

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands

-0.31

0.4%

Duesseldorf

Germany

-0.29

1.1%

Table 5: Correlation between temperature and demand.

The relationship between temperature and the increase in popularity of travel to warm places can also be seen visually in Figure 2.  When temperature is warm searches for travel to these destinations is low, but as temperature falls searches increase and peak when temperature is at it’s lowest point.

Figure 10: Temperature and search frequency as a function of time for the top 10 temperature driven destinations from Atlanta.

Data and Methodology

The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes about 10 million queries and 1 billion trips per day.  Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market.

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