The effect of weather on purchasing decisions can be significant, especially in the travel sector, where travel companies see sales for overseas holidays soar when the weather here in the UK is poor.

Reacting to these changes in supply and demand in real time is key to maximising profitability and ensuring visibility in high conversion periods.

The results are tangible too, when Butlins implemented a weather based bidding strategy they saw conversion rates increase by 7% and CTR increase by 28%.

This article is going to show some real life examples of the effect of temperature and weather conditions on purchasing decisions as well as explaining how you can setup weather based bidding and calculate the correct bid changes to maximise profitability.

How weather affects the travel sector

The effects of weather on search and booking volumes is fairly significant. When Thomas Cook analysed the effect of local weather on Google search and booking volumes for the keyword “Mallorca Holidays”, they saw performance varied by as much as 14%.

Booking behaviour

  • On days with continuous rain, Thomas Cook’s online bookings rise by 7%.
  • During sunny warm weather, online bookings drop by 8%.

Google search behaviour

  • On days with continuous rain, search queries for vacations to Mallorca rise by 9% on average across all devices.
  • During sunny warm weather, search volume for vacations to Mallorca decrease by 14%

Weather effects domestic and international bookings differently.

International holidays

When looking at international holidays, Weatherads analysed the correlations between temperature and bookings for users searching for the term “cheap flights ibiza” in London.

You can see from the findings below that as the temperate (which is shown by the red line) increases, the volume of searchers (which is shown by the blue line) decreases, showing an inversely proportional relationship between temperature and search volume.

bookings vs temp - international travel

Domestic holidays

Compare this to domestic holidays where people are searching for holidays in the same country that they are searching from and you will see the relationship between temperature and search volume is now proportional.

When Weatherads analysed the search volume for the terms “hamptons hotels” for users who were searching in New York they saw that as temperature, which is shown as the red line increased, so did the search volume.

bookings vs temp domestic travel

To summarise, on the whole when looking at international bookings, when temperature increases, bookings decrease and vice versa. When looking at domestic holidays, when temperatures increase, bookings increase and vice versa.

There have however been instances at Clicteq (my employer) where we have analysed travel clients performance against weather conditions and this correlation has not held true. So it is important to conduct your own analysis to determine the impact on performance of both temperature and weather conditions on bookings.

How to set up weather based bidding

Setting up weather based bidding is largely split into two parts, you need to first analyse how weather actually affects the performance of your adverts. Secondly you then need to use this data to make bid changes in real time to improve the performance of your adverts.

Analysing the data

Working out the correlation between your Adwords performance and the weather where users are searching is fairly simple.

First pull a day-by-day report using the dimensions tab within Adwords and drop that into a Google Sheet.

Then pull the temperature and weather conditions for the area that the campaign is targeted at from using Time and Date.

You should then have a table that looks like this with the date down the side and the corresponding, conversion data, temperature and weather condition.

mapping clicks to temperature

Once you have done this you can then graph temperature vs conversion rate and also weather condition vs conversion rate. So you should get a graph that looks something like this for temperature vs conversion rate.

conversion rate mapped to temp

Making programmatic bid changes based on weather

Now you have the analysis and understand the correlation between the weather condition and the performance of your ads, you need to use this data to make real time changes to your bids within Adwords.

There are two main ways in which this can be done.

It can be done either using this Adwords Script if you are confident with using Adwords Scripts to make programmatic changes to your Adwords campaigns.

Or if you are not familiar with Adwords Scripts you may want to use a solution like WeatherAds, however this will incur a cost. This makes it easy to set up rules, for example when the temperature is above 15 degrees in the location that a user is searching in, increase bids by 25%.

Conclusion

The weather in the location that a user is searching in has a fairly significant effect on whether a user will make a booking or not, with Thomas cooking seeing performance swing by as much as 14%.

When looking at the data for international and domestic bookings there are generally two trends. For international bookings as temperatures rise here in the UK, bookings decrease and when temperatures decrease, bookings rise.

When looking at domestic holidays the reverse is true with bookings increasing proportionally as temperatures rise.

Setting up weather based bidding using Adwords scripts or an API platform like WeatherAds is fairly straightforward and as a travel brand should help you significantly improve performance.

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