Russell Young
Jul 13, 2016

Lessons from sifting Hari Raya Puasa travel trends

Data analysis yields insights for travel marketers, writes Sojern's Russell Young.

Russell Young
Russell Young

Hari Raya Puasa, or Day of Celebration, is an important day for Muslim communities of Southeast Asia because it marks the end of Ramadan, a religious period of prayer, fasting, charity and self-accountability. Because of the public holiday, Hari Raya Puasa also kicks off a busy travel period in the region.

Sojern analysed our 350 million global traveller profiles in order to get a view into trends for the post-Ramadan period. We first looked at the numbers in May, and again more recently at the end of June. Understanding the shifts in trends as we move closer to the holiday allows for more actionable takeaways for travel marketers.

1. Change along with your traveller

When we looked in May at travel following Ramadan (30 June to 6 July), trip duration was evenly split between those lasting four to seven days and 12 days or more—each accounting for roughly one-third of all trips.

Our June update shows a substantial shift—last-minute travellers looking for short breaks of zero to three days rose to 28 percent and travel of 12 days or more fell to 24 percent.

It’s clear that last-minute travelers prefer shorter trips, so travel marketers should take note and adapt to these changing preferences. Don’t assume that your potential customers’ searches remain static over time. Instead, consider diversifying your creative to better tailor your offers to the changing needs of in-market travellers. 

2. Really know your audience

Our data reveals that the top departure dates for travellers from Southeast Asia were 30 June and 1 July, the Thursday and Friday before the public holidays. Intent peaked on the Friday, with an increase of 55 percent week-over-week.

Understanding these departure trends requires travel marketers to know their audience. For example, in Southeast Asia, it’s customary for people to return to their family hometown a day or two before Hari Raya Puasa to visit friends and family. As Hari Raya Puasa took place on a Wednesday this year, we saw people leaving a bit early to spend a long weekend with family.

Further, different countries have varied public holidays to mark the end of Ramadan, which can impact the amount of people in market for travel and trip duration. From our June data, we saw that the countries with the greatest increases in travel intent were Indonesia and Malaysia. These countries had from 6 to 8 July as public holidays, which presents an excellent opportunity to take a long weekend away without using any vacation time. In Singapore, we saw only a small increase in travel intent. Only 6 July was a public holiday, and it fell in the middle of the week, so Singaporeans were less likely to travel for extended periods during the holiday.

Knowing these country-specific considerations can help you focus your advertising efforts to markets that are more actively looking for travel.

3. Understand where people are looking to go and why

When we looked in May, France was one of the top five destinations for Southeast Asia travellers departing after Ramadan. During our most recent view, France fell out of the top 10 completely. Moreover, searches to Western Europe as a whole dropped from 18 percent in May to only 10 percent in June. This benefited destinations in Southeast Asia, which grew from 31 percent in May to 40 percent in June. This increase is expected as shorter trips are researched and booked closer to the desired departure date.

If you are a tourist board in Southeast Asia, you’ll probably get more marketing bang for your buck by keeping your marketing efforts within the region during this time, appealing to the amount of intra-regional travel that is set to travel post-Ramadan.

4. Opportunities abound

Hari Raya Puasa has something for everyone. There are opportunities to reach both city-break travellers as well as longer-stay holidaymakers. People are looking to spend time with loved ones, and others are looking to completely get away from it all. As a marketer, the objective is cutting through the noise to create targeted campaigns that reach the audience most relevant to you.

Russell Young is Asia-Pacific managing director with Sojern

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