According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a holiday is “An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.” However, when the the7stars Lightbox collaborated with Exterion Media to undertake research with UK urban consumers, we found something very different: for most people a holiday simply means a break from routine and having some time to yourself. This finding led us to go on and bust three popular holiday myths.

So, the first of the three myths we busted was: holidays are a chance to get away from it all and switch off. The majority of consumers (57%) said they want to escape everyday life, however only 21% said they aim to evade technology when they are on holiday. In fact, for many technology actually adds to their experience – as long as work stress and anxiety caused by work emails and social media are avoided. Furthermore, whilst 2 in 3 said they wanted relaxation, 2 in 5 of these urbanites told us that they were also active on their last holiday. This shows that relaxing does not always mean completely switching off, instead it suggests that relaxation is about having the chance to pick and choose what you do on holiday.

The second myth we busted was: low cost always wins in importance over other factors when considering holidays. Less than a quarter (23%) said that low cost influences their holiday choices, whereas 42% said that they look for good value. In fact, accommodation (30%), location (25%), and experiences (15%) are what most consumers prioritise when booking a holiday. This shows that people are willing to spend more when they believe they are getting a good value. Travel brands, therefore, should focus their attention on these rather than the cost of holidays to attract consumers.

Finally, the third myth was: people are only in the holiday mindset around Christmas and New Year. With one third of foreign travel marketing expenditure taking place from December through to February and reaching a peak in January, the7stars asked whether this is the most efficient way of targeting consumers. In reality, bookings are almost equally spread across seasons, and 38% said that they did not book holidays at any particular time of year. Although more than half (51%) said that they start planning holidays at the start of the year, booking is triggered by key motivational moments – such as a change of season, and specific events or festivals. Even more surprising, 76% said that they book mini-breaks throughout the year, within no particular time frame. Travel brands, then, should target their advertising to consumers’ particular behaviours so as to provide a bespoke and more successful campaign.

Our research highlighted three main opportunities for brands: