If the weather this summer is anything like the last, UK travel agents will be laughing all way to the bank. Statistics show that holiday bookings skyrocket during periods of unseasonably bad weather. Virgin Atlantic reported a 37% increase in bookings during summer 2012, whilst Thompson saw a 20% spike in holiday searches.
A survey by Travelmole found that 75% of Brits think the weather is the most important factor in deciding where to go on holiday. It’s no surprise that places such as Balearics, Spain, Greece, Florida, the Algarve and Turkey are proving most popular amongst UK holidaymakers – all ‘sun and sea’ holiday destinations.
Last summer was the wettest in the UK for 100 years and second wettest on record. To add insult to injury it was also one of the dullest summers on record with just 413 hours of sunshine. The stats speak for themselves; despite the economic downturn, 43% of the public said that last summer’s weather had put them off holidaying in Britain, according to a recent survey by TTG Digital.
With the UK experiencing a drawn out winter and some cold spells this spring, travel agents, booking sites and tour operators will be hoping the inclement weather continues through into the summer.
However, the big talking point is the weather forecast for the Australian grand Prix, which right now is looking very mixed indeed.
At the time of writing (Thursday, 14 March) our forecast for Albert Park is indicating that although the Practice rounds – which take place on Fri – will be a dry and sunny affair, there may be a serious dampener to the Australian GP Qualifiers on Saturday.
Looking at Saturday’s forecast, at the time of writing it seems that there could be a substantial amount of rainfall during the qualification, which will put an interesting ‘spin’ on proceedings. These animated weather charts for Albert Park show a band of heavy cloud and rain coming in from the South Australian Basin due to move North-East over Melbourne.
Temperatures for the GP race on Sunday are expected to be lower than usual, peaking at around 17C, with some patchy rain in the morning, likely drying under the Australian sun in time for the start of the race at 17.00 local time. View the forecast for the race here.
Pirrelli have brought new P Zero Red Supersoft tyres to Albert Park for the first time which will offer better grip for the lower ambient temperatures of the track – view the track temperature chart for Albert Park here. These tyres offer better traction on this semi-permanent low-grip asphalt surface, but will wear quicker and result in more pit stops.
However, these tyres may need to be replaced by Cinturato wet tyres for the qualifiers, and consequently for the race, if officials make that decision. This all depends on the weather…
Recent research conducted by Trivago, a popular hotel comparison site, shows that 85% of customers make their last minute bookings online, with a meager 15% using traditional methods – e.g. by phone or through a travel agent.
This increase in online bookings is mainly attributed to the proliferation of smart phones and tablets, as well as the rise of a more internet savvy generation.
What’s more, weather and climate information is critical in generating this demand. Holidaymakers going online to book a cheap getaway have two main concerns – how good the deal is, and how good the forecast is.
In fact, The United Nations World Tourism Organisation states that “the consideration of current weather or near-term forecasts (next 1-4 days) is the most important factor in ‘last minute’ domestic leisure tourism.”
With competition heating up in the last minute deals space, new marketing tactics need to be employed to boost sales. For travel agents, tour operators and booking engines, weather information is being used as a valuable online marketing tool to drive last minute bookings.
A holiday weather index, such as ‘Good Weather Now’ calculates the weather conditions for the week ahead and gives an eye-catching star rating for a holiday destination, providing a quick reference to compare a number of potential destinations and help the decision process.
With Britain in the grips of a winter that is actually relatively tame when compared with conditions often experienced in countries like Germany and the alpine nations, it is shockingly obvious that the UK’s roads are considerably more dangerous than those in Europe when they are covered with the same amount of snow and ice. Why?
The answer is that European drivers at the start of November remove the ‘summer’ tyres from their car and fit ‘winter’ tyres. When driving on snow the difference in performance of these tyres is blindingly obvious. How do we know? Last week we drove from Slovenia to the north of Scotland in deep winter conditions. This included treacherous roads laden with snow, rutted with ice, or covered with slush. Of course having two sets of tyres costs more up front but anyone that mentions cost is clearly missing the critical point – this is not a cost issue, this is about the safety of drivers and their passengers.
In the UK we simply don’t take this issue seriously. In Germany they take it so seriously that at the end of 2010 they made it illegal not to have winter tyres on your car during winter. The UK urgently needs to follow this hugely sensible lead. In the meantime if you want to minimise the risk of damaging yourself, your passengers and your car here are our suggestions.
1. Plan your journey. When driving across Europe during the winter use these charts as a vital planning aid for routing decisions.
2. Change your car tyres from ‘summer’ tyres – which is what almost every UK car is fitted with 12 months of the year – to ‘winter’ tyres.* To find the best tyre check out a tyre review site and then hunt down a deal. You will often find the best deals being offered in summer.
3. If you never want to be stuck you need to go one step further – you need snow chains.* The simplest and best are unfortunately the most expensive. Swiss made Spike Spiders are snow chains that simply click onto a hub plate mounted to your wheels. Once fitted to your car it will drive like a tractor on roads covered with deep compacted snow or a substantial fresh snow covering and ice.
* If putting winter tyres on your car always check with your insurance company first that this is ok.
Oh and finally, have you noticed that in the UK some drivers have a fondness for 4×4 vehicles with huge wheels with low profile tyres? Having spotted some of these vehicles in the snow last week it appeared they may not appreciate how their wheel and tyre choice is putting lives at risk. 4x4s shod in winter tyres can be vastly superior to similarly equipped two wheel drive vehicles in snow. Unfortunately many 4×4 drivers fail to appreciate that their vehicle when fitted with ‘summer’ tyres is completely inferior to even the most basic 2wd vehicle shod in ‘winter tyres’ when temperatures are low and roads are white, rutted with ice, or even just slushy.
Does your business supply winter driving equipment, vehicles, tyres? Weather2 forecasts can predict how weather will affect your sales and can also feature on your company website. contact us for more info or visit http://www.myweather2.com/business/
The travel industry is one of the biggest and fastest-growing sectors globally, and weather has become one of its main selling factors. The World Tourism Organization sees weather and climate as “the most important influence on the choice of leisure travel destinations”.
Whether booking a ski trip to the Alps, or a beach vacation in Florida, weather and climate are the main influencing factors on the choice of destination, ahead of even cost and timing.
Research shows that 86% of holidaymakers to the Mediterranean looked for climate information for the region, with 81% of them doing so prior to making a booking.
However reviews of tourism websites and promotional materials have shown that “most tourism operators provide limited climate information to potential travellers, with the most common practice to provide only average monthly temperatures”
Travel Agents and Booking sites that do not display climate and forecast information are jeopardising sales, as the majority of users will leave their site in search of this content. The only way to maximise profits is to create a good user experience, and give the customers want they want.
Not only is climate information highly desired by end-users, but similarly current weather conditions and short-range forecasts are “the most important factor in ‘last minute’ domestic leisure tourism”
Equally this does not only apply to recreational travellers. Business travellers rely heavily on accurate, short-term weather information for routing decisions in order to avoid delays and diversions.
Travel and booking agents on the other hand can use weather and climate information to legitimise pre-departure contact to promote value-added services such as car rental and insurance.
The World Tourism Organization states that now more than ever, “Accurate, geographically specific meteorological information is essential for tourism operations.”
 East Carolina University, http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/sustainabletourism/Climate-Weather-and-Tourism-Initiative.cfm
 Weather and Climate Information for Tourism, 2009, p. 30
 Smith, 1993; Perry, 1997; McBoyle pers. comm., 2009; Jones pers. comm., 2009
 Szalai and Ratz, 2006
 Final Communiqué, Secure and Sustainable Living – Social and Economic Benefits of Weather, Climate and Water Services
Climate and weather are the most important factors in influencing holiday decisions, according to the latest research. An Ipsos MORI survey of 3500 European consumers concludes that 2010 was the first year climate overtook weather as the top criteria when choosing a holiday destination.
Furthermore, the survey shows that in Britain, the overwhelming majority of holidays are booked on-line (68%). Travel agencies, booking sites and publishers take note. This research proves the importance of having live weather data and climate profiles on your site.
A second impartial study by FIA confirms that weather is a more important factor in choosing a holiday than ‘cost of living’, ‘quality of accommodation’, ‘natural beauty’ and ‘nightlife’, understandably second only to ‘general safety’.
Since weather is the most critical criteria for choosing a holiday, and most holidays are booked online, for a travel publisher not to display quality weather content on their web-site could be very damaging for business.
Displaying weather content will attract prospective holidaymakers to your site over your competitors. Including climate profiles will deepen the level of engagement with your visitors, thereby increasing conversions. For more information please visit our Travel Publishers page.
Floods in Thailand, droughts in North America, and persistent rain in the UK – it seems that the climate is becoming more extreme. But no one can categorically explain this phenomenon. However, here are 6 of the weirdest weather phenomena that CAN be explained:
Raining animals – There have been numerous reports of small animals falling out of the sky, most commonly frogs and fish. The explanation for this is Watersprouts – whirlwinds of water sucking the animals up into the sky and then strong winds carrying them inland before dispersing them ground wards.
St. Elmos Fire – These can sometimes have the appearance of fire balls but are actually spheres of electrical discharge which occur during a thunderstorm. They have been known to rise up nearby objects such as the mast of a ship or a lightning rod.
Fire Devils – Whirlwinds which occur during a forest fire, fuel the flame whilst sucking it inwards creating a vertical column of fast moving spinning fire. These can have devastating effects. One was recently filmed in Australia.
Ice Bombs – We think of hail as being small granules of ice falling like water. But an ice bomb is a giant ball of ice falling from the sky, sometimes observed even when there are no clouds in sight. The largest recorded weighed in at 80 pounds.
Dust Storm – A giant sandstorm most common in arid regions. A storm will whip up loose dust, sand and debris creating a moving wall of sediment which precedes the storm cloud, measuring up to 100km wide and several km high. If the storm clouds eventually fall as rain the sand can mix with the precipitation to create mud storms.
This summer in Britain has been the wettest for 100 years, with the period of April to June being the wettest ever on record. Since the devastating floods of 2007, five out of six summers have been utterly miserable. So what is responsible for this horrendous weather?
The Jet stream is an enormous ‘river’ of fast moving air, several hundred miles wide, flowing high above the clouds, at around 30,000 feet altitude. It moves East to West around the earth at 150-300 mph. The Jet stream separates the cold air in the North from the warm air in the South. Usually the Jet stream ‘meanders’ but over this summer it’s course was fixed south of the UK over Northern France, which meant that areas of low pressure from the north were being directed over Britain, bringing with them heavy cloud and rain. In contrast, the US – which is largely positioned to the south of the Jet Stream – has had a searingly hot summer with many regions affected by droughts
2. Warming of the Atlantic Ocean
So what determines the path of the jet stream? Well, the truth is that no one can completely explain this phenomenon. However, one significant factor is thought to be the warming of the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic naturally goes through cycles of warming and cooling (lasting 20-50 years) and it has been warming since around 1990. The warming of the water affects the surrounding air pressure, which in turn directs the jet stream.
3. Global Warming
It is believed that global warming, caused by the emission of greenhouse gasses into the earth’s atmosphere, is accelerating the warming of the Oceans. The images released by NASA of the unprecedented melt of Greenland’s Ice sheet confirm that global warming is a real threat. Studies suggest that the resulting release of heat over the Atlantic has weakened the jet stream making it more meandering. For the UK, this has brought about the terrible weather that is now becoming a staple of the British summer.
WHAT ARE WEATHER WIDGETS/ API
A simple 5 day weather forecast for a single or multiple locations can be put on your site for free – providing it’s for non-commercial use*. This is done via either a ‘weather widget’ or a ‘weather API’.
Having a weather feed is of huge benefit to any website that covers geo-specific activities or events. This is particularly useful for travel and events sites, or specialised activity sites such as for skiing or sailing. However, even if your site is for your personal business or local cricket club, it is advantageous to include a weather forecast.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WEATHER WIDGETS/ API
The reason for this is that a Weather Widget or API is content that is both dynamic and compelling. Simply put, the content is constantly changing and updating, meaning that it remains relevant and necessary to the viewer.
When it comes to having a website, content is king. And compelling content such as weather should not only attract more traffic to your site, but should also help retain the visitors for longer. All this helps towards improving the Google Pagerank and SERP (search engine results page) position of your site, as well as other metrics that you can monitor using Google Analytics.
Integrating weather into your site couldn’t be simpler – it’s as easy as copy and pasting some code into the back end of your website and hey presto, the forecast appears on your site and updates automatically.
*For more info on weather feeds for commercial use, please visit our Publishers page