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Business analytics is the study of past performance to gain insight on how decisions should be made in the future. Companies can analyze data from the past to help predict future performance and trends. How can this be applied to Thanksgiving travel? Analysis of this data is useful for many sectors of the travel market, from transportation providers to everyday travelers. Take a look at these Thanksgiving travel statistics and read on to see how they can be analyzed and applied by anyone.

  1. The number of long distance trips (travel greater than 50 miles) increases by more than 50% during the 6 day Thanksgiving travel period.
  2.  Thanksgiving Day is usually more heavily-traveled than the Wednesday before.
  3. Approximately 90% of long-distance holiday travel is by personal vehicle (car). Only 5-6% of long-distance travel is by air. 2-3% is by bus, train or other mode. 
  4. 44% of personal vehicle trips (those traveling 50-99 miles) travel on Thursday more often than on Wednesday, and return on Saturday more often than on Sunday.
  5. 56% of drivers will travel more than 100 miles.
  6. The average long-distance trip is 214 miles.
  7. The difference in volume between the most and least busy travel days [of the Thanksgiving period] is approximately 1 million people.
  8. 25 million people are expected to fly in the 12 days surrounding Thanksgiving 2013.
  9. Airlines are predicted to fill 85% of their passenger capacity, as opposed to 83% last year.

Based on these statistics, travelers can predict when and how they should travel, based on their own preferences. If you don’t enjoy sitting in traffic on the highway, you may not want to choose “personal vehicle” as your transportation method of choice this year: 90% of holiday long-distance travel is done by car. Individuals with claustrophobia  may not want to choose airplanes as their method of travel, as recent data suggests that  airlines are expected to reach 85% capacity this Thanksgiving. This is mainly due to steady fuel prices and an increased effort by airlines to fill every seat. Commercial airlines, train travel providers, and bus services can take a look at past years’ trends in ridership to get valuable insight for this year. They may get an idea of how many people to expect this year, what days those people will most likely be traveling, and what method of travel they prefer. We humans are creatures of habit, making a technology like analytics incredibly useful, reliable and accurate in many situations.

This post was written by a contributor for MSU Business Analytics, featuring the Master of Science in Business Analytics program.


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