How events impact air travel demand

Dr. Ali Gazala
Data Scientist

Airline Booking Patterns and Events Impact

The last decade has witnessed a significant increase in utilizing big data for travel behavior analysis and intelligence. Understanding passengers travel patterns in terms of ‘how’ and ‘why’ are crucial for many business domains such as hotels, airlines, ride sharing and car rentals. A significant part of business and leisure travel behavior can be attributed to events like football matches, music festivals and business conferences. Therefore, quantifying events impacts on a large scale requires global events visibility with a reliable measure of events impact.

In this article we present the “Directional Movement” analysis as part of PredictHQ’s ` platform. The analysis quantifies what events impacted travel patterns in the past, and what events are likely to impact travel in the future. PredictHQ has utilized its global events API and also data from its partner Amadeus to perform the analysis. Amadeus provides products, services and technology to sell travel, enhance the traveller experience and build customer engagement for all travel providers. Amadeus technology helps all travel providers such as travel agencies and airlines to manage their business, reducing costs and improving revenues.

The dataset provided by Amadeus is an aggregation of booking data at the Origin and Destination (O&D) level. PredictHQ’s API provides global events visibility for 19+ different event categories collected from hundreds of public and private sources. The two datasets were used to infer unusual travel pattern profiles associated with different event types and provide predictions for selected upcoming events that are most likely to impact air travel.

Scheduled Events

This category describes events that are scheduled to occur at a specific location and usually follow a regular timetable. Examples of such events are annual conferences and expos, festivals, marathons and so on. Many regular events may change time and/or location from year to year. Therefore, having scalable and accurate global event visibility is critical for identifying events impact across different cities and time periods. For instance, the Gamescom expo is a trade fair for video games held annually during August at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany. The event attracts many international journalists, game developers, and exhibitors. The data shows a significant increase in international travel through Cologne Bonn Airport (IATA: CGN) right before the expo starting date.

Figure 1 shows that the demand impact of Gamescom expo was shifted from the second week of August in 2015 to the third week of August in 2016.

Figure 1 – Demand Impact of Gamescom Expo during 2015 and 2016

The results above demonstrate how scheduled events can impact passengers traffic for certain routes and airlines. However, the travel pattern for this category may differ based on the subject and targeted audience of a specific event. For example, medical conference events can increase international inbound traffic during the event period with no clear difference in domestic travel, while a cluster of concurrent events such as Maifest Chicago (also known as ‘Mayfest’) and Chicago Gospel Music Festival can show increased traffic in domestic and international travel. Our directional demand analysis identified the following events to have a high potential impact on air travel patterns during August and September 2017.

Holidays and Leisure Travel

Events associated with holidays and leisure travel can have a different passenger traffic pattern than business events. The data shows various types of booking and travel patterns related to public holidays, school holidays, and observances. For example, public holidays and long-weekends can increase domestic inbound and outbound traffic one day prior to the event, with medium to high increase in advance bookings. School holidays, on the other hand, are associated with longer international travel and above average advance booking patterns. However, holiday travel destinations can vary according to the time of the year. For instance, Figures 2 and 3 show an increase in demand level from the Netherlands to Los Angeles and Miami airports during school holiday periods. This seems to show that Dutch travelers made more trips to different US destinations during summer and April holidays.

Figure 2 – Increased Demand Level from the Netherlands (All Airports) to Los Angeles During Spring and Summer Holidays

Figure 3 – Increased Demand Level from the Netherlands (All Airports) to Miami During Spring Holiday

Our directional demand analysis identified the following holidays to have a high impact on air travel patterns during the upcoming weeks:

The directional movement analysis presented in this article demonstrated how major events can impact travel patterns and passengers traffic behavior. The analysis identified different types of patterns such as short spikes in demand levels prior to conferences and business events, as well as long advance bookings for holidays and leisure events. The results also suggest that traffic behavior patterns may apply to different types of travel such as domestic, international or both. Understanding how events can push or pull passengers’ movements at origin and destination can allow businesses to have a proactive approach in response to future major events. By harnessing the power of our events intelligence and directional movement analysis, PredictHQ helps businesses get ahead of the curve and stay ahead.