Bing Travel Holiday Forecast: U.S. Airfare and Hotel Prices Down Slightly

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 20, 2011 — The Fareologists at Bing Travel today issued their preliminary forecast for the 2011 holiday travel season, predicting some holiday cheer for travelers when they see that domestic airfare and hotel prices are expected to drop slightly this winter. 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.

Although the U.S. forecast is looking steady, international travel is predicted to be at a premium this holiday. 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.

“Given this summer’s sharp increases, it’s a relief to see travel prices normalize this holiday,” said Kari Dilloo of Bing Travel. “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 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.

Celebrate in the sun. 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 Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 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, the following 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 year over year)

  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, to Houston. $148 in 2010; $168 in 2011 (14 percent increase year over year)

  • Arlington, Texas, to Fort Lauderdale. $232 in 2010; $184 in 2011 (21 percent decrease year over year)

  • New York (LGA) to Fort Lauderdale. $192 in 2010; $194 in 2011 (1 percent increase year over year)

  • New York (JFK) to Miami. $234 in 2010; $195 in 2011 (16 percent decrease year over year)

Affordable hotel stays. Travelers won’t have to skimp on their hotel stays this season, since prices for five-star hotels are down more than 8 percent from last year, with the biggest savings found on luxury hotels in Cancun, Mexico; Las Vegas; and New York. Across three-, four- and five-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 year over year)

  • New York. $489.14 in 2010; $417.98 in 2011 (14.55 percent decrease year over year)

  • Cancun. $142.66 in 2010; $125.27 in 2011 (12.19 percent decrease year over year)

  • Toronto. $166.61 in 2010; $186.50 in 2011 (11.94 percent increase year over year)

  • Washington, D.C. $382.10 in 2010; $339.85 in 2011 (11.06 percent decrease year over year)

Making international trips fit your budget. Traveling internationally, while idyllic, continues to be 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 from the last holiday season. Although airfares to Europe have generally increased across the board, Madrid represents the lowest average ticket price destination in Europe this holiday season. The following are the top five lowest holiday price routes to Europe:

  • New York (EWR) to Madrid: $676 in 2010; $758 in 2011 (12 percent increase year over year)

  • New York (JFK) to Madrid: $710 in 2010; $762 in 2011 (7 percent increase year over year)

  • New York (JFK) to Paris: $743 in 2010; $767 in 2011 (3 percent increase year over year)

  • Boston to Madrid: $695 in 2010; $780 in 2011 (12 percent increase year over year)

  • Boston to London: $725 in 2010; $798 in 2011 (10 percent increase year over year)

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. Traveling in December to Asia can save you money ($1,091 average ticket price) because prices are trending down that month compared with 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 help 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 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 also can 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 a personal Wish List on Facebook and, simultaneously, get information and images through Bing Travel.

The Bing flexible search option helps travelers with a bit of wiggle room, visually laying out the cheapest times and destinations for your upcoming travel plans and allowing you to filter search results based on your specific preferences. Sometimes, saving money is as simple as leaving three days later, 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.

More information is available at http://www.bing.com/travel.

About Bing

Bing, the decision engine from Microsoft Corp., represents a new generation of search. Bing was developed to deliver results in a visually stunning way that makes it easy for users to find the information they need. People today expect more than 10 blue links on a page, and Bing is Microsoft’s first step in a broader effort to evolve search into a more refined tool that helps people cut through Internet clutter. Designed with today’s searchers in mind, Bing provides intelligent tools to simplify tasks and help people make fast decisions.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.