We don’t like to talk about the ‘C’ word before we’ve even reached October half-term, but Christmas is only a couple of months away and that means that the roads will be busy – really busy!

The festive period will see leisure travellers in their millions driving to see family and friends, or heading off on a break, all on top of existing commuter and work traffic. Rail companies also schedule engineering works at this time of year, which compounds the issue by forcing huge numbers of people away from trains and into cars.

In fact, Friday 21st December last year was dubbed ‘Frantic Friday’, as an estimated 59% of UK drivers hit main roads on that day alone!

This means that Motorway Services will be super busy, as 80% of festive motorway travellers will stop at one. To tap into this audience, we used our latest Drive Panel research, drawing from a database of 600 motorists, to take a more detailed look at the behaviour and interests of those on the road at Christmas.

In terms of when they expect to make their main Christmas trip, only 19% of people will head off either on or before the 21st December this year. Instead, traffic should start to pick up on Sunday 22nd December, with 59% on the roads between then and Christmas Eve. Frantic Friday this year will arrive after Boxing Day, as a third of our respondents expect to come home on the 27th.

The research also revealed that the average drive time to a main Christmas break is a lengthy 2hrs 37 minutes. Long drives such as these, over a third of which will be with children, can be nerve-wracking and exhausting, before we add in the extra worry caused by raised traffic levels and driving safely in the wintry conditions. Therefore it’s little wonder that festive drives make 36% of our travellers more stressed.

However, 68% feel more relaxed during a stop at a Motorway Services. While visitors take this opportunity for a washroom break, a stretch of the legs and a bite to eat, they are in a better mindset to take in the advertising at every stage of the journey through the Services.

Firstly, this is an audience that loves entertainment – they stream and download in their droves and go to the cinema more regularly than the average adult. Additionally, 60% carry technology such as Kindles and laptops in their cars on long drives, and 81% say that receiving information and downloads during a long journey would appeal to them and their family – meaning that advertising movies, music, TV and the like at Motorway Services makes great sense.

To this end, Admedia’s network of fifty Nexus digital 48 sheets offer full-motion to show off the latest Christmas movie and TV trailers, a technology that has been used by top entertainment advertisers including Fox and Sky.

Time away from the screen is also important to keep the family entertained. A massive 81% of Christmas travellers at Motorway Services do not have a set list of activities before they head off, while 44% are influenced by advertising when looking for Christmas activity ideas. We’ve worked with leisure and tourism advertisers such as Blue Planet Aquarium, English Heritage and the National Trust using a full range of advertising formats, from Nexus to 6 Sheets and A3 Washroom Panels that offer 100% gender targeting and interactivity thanks to being situated in a high dwell-time, high footfall environment.

Finally, 80% of our Drive Panel respondents who smoke or vape agreed that Motorway Services provide a natural opportunity to take a smoking/vaping break – revealing another audience with time to take in not just our external Nexus and 6 Sheet advertising for a variety of categories, but also the latest vaping products from brands such as Blu, 88Vape and Vype.

To take advantage of the huge increases in traffic over the Christmas period, and for the full research study or further information on our Drive Panel, please contact us here.