|Online Travel Market|
|Travel Industry Online Developments|
Nearly two-thirds of US internet users will research travel via digital channels in 2013, according to eMarketer. As a result, travel metasearch engines (specialized travel aggregators that provide online listings from both travel suppliers and online travel agencies (OTAs)) are becoming more popular, as travel "lookers" seek out one-stop shops to compare different brands, products, packages and prices early in the purchase funnel.
Expected growth at Kayak.com, the metasearch market leader in the US, underscores this trend. Stock analysis firm Trefis estimated in April 2013 that total searches worldwide on Kayak will triple to 3.6 billion queries by 2019, up from 1.2 billion in 2012.
According to Trefis, the majority of travel searches on Kayak are for airlines, but hotel queries are increasing at a faster pace. Hotel searches surged from 24 million in 2007 to 167 million in 2012 (a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48%, which outpaced the 38% CAGR of total queries during the same period. Trefis also pointed out that hotel searches are a far more lucrative business, garnering $321 in distribution revenue per 1,000 searches compared with $79 per 1,000 airline requests.
Expansion of (and success with) the metasearch model has led to major shakeups in the marketplace within the past six months. Priceline Corporation acquired Kayak in November 2012, and soon after, Expedia, Inc. moved to acquire European metasearch leader Trivago.
Online travel agencies like Priceline and Expedia have a vested interest in metasearch, as 6% of US traffic comes to them from these types of sites, according to December 2012 data from PhoCusWright and Experian Hitwise.
More than one in 20 visits is notable considering that the top online travel agencies drew between 10 million to 20 million unique visitors in June 2012, according to comScore. (eMarketer, May 2013)
Google Maps was the most popular websites in the travel category in the US in March 2013, according to Experian Hitwise.
Top travel websites in the US, March 2013
1. Google Maps: 224,884,106 total visits (15.52% visits share)
2. MapQuest: 104,845,459 (7.23%)
3. Expedia: 45,614,472 (3.15%)
4. TripAdvisor: 40,269,070 (2.78%_
5. Southwest Airlines: 36,982,179 (2.55%)
(Experian Hiwise, March 2013)
US travellers increasingly turn to mobile devices to plan and book travel, according to Google/Ipsos MediaCT ‘The 2012 Traveler study'. 38% of leisure travellers and 57% of business travellers use mobile for travel information.
- What Travellers Value: leisure travellers seeks value from trusted brand, business travellers seek convenience.
- Internet and Search: 83% of leisure travellers and 76% of business travellers plan online. Leisure travellers turn to search engines to plan travel online (96% have started their hotel planning with search); business travellers rely more heavily on supplier sites.
- Mobile: When booking travel on a mobile device, travellers tend to book via mobile browser. A bad mobile website is the number 1 deterrent to booking travel on a phone. 32% of travel apps are downloaded from clicks on ads.
- Online Video: online video as a resource for planning travel has grown over time: 21% of leisure travellers used online video for travel planning, up from 14% in 2009 (the percentage was 26% in 2012 among business travellers, up from 17% in 2009). Findings also show that travellers watch online video in all phases of travel planning; watching a mix of user-generated content and professionally-made videos. 74% of affluent travellers indicated that watching online video while planning travel have prompted them to book as a result. The figure reached 72% among business travellers and 45% among leisure travellers.
- Loyalty: business travellers are enrolled in more loyalty programs than leisure travellers. Neither group uses all of the programs in which they are enrolled.
- Destinations: Most leisure travellers and 70% of affluent travellers begin researching travel online, without a specific destination or mode of travel in mind.
This compilation study combines findings from Google's annual Traveler's Road to Decision study and Google search data. (Thinkinsights with Google, August 2012)
Expedia Inc. (which includes Hotwire) ranked as the top property in the online travel agents category in 2012 with 31.6% of all category page views, followed by Priceline.com Inc. (17.3%) and Orbitz Worldwide (12.9%), according to comScore.
Top online travel agent properties by share of page views, full year 2012 (total US - home and work computers):
1. Expedia Inc.: 31.6% (-6.0% percentage points compared to 2011)
2. Priceline.com Inc.: 17.3% (+1.6)
3. Orbitz Worldwide: 12.9% (-0.1%)
4. Fareportal Media Group: 9.2% (+0.7)
5. Travelocity: 7.6% (-2.4)
6. Kayak.com Network: 6.9% (+2.2)
7. BookingBuddy Sites: 2.3% (+2.3)
8. CheapCaribbean.com: 1.4% (+0.5)
9. BookIt.com: 1.1% (+0.1%)
10. AppleVacations.com: 0.6% (-0.1)
(comScore, February 2013)
57% of US business travellers reported using mobile devices to access travel information in 2012, compared to just 38% of US leisure travellers, according to Google and Ipsos MediaCT's August 2012 study ‘The 2012 Traveler'.
US leisure vs. business travellers who use a mobile device to access travel information on the internet, 2009-2012 (% of respondents):
- 2009: 25% of business travellers / 8% of leisure travellers
- 2010: 40% / 18%
- 2011: 56% / 31%
- 2012: 57% / 38%
(eMarketer, October 2012)
Nearly 40 million US consumers accessed travel sites or apps from their smartphone in July 2012, reaching 37% of the smartphone population, according to comScore's findings into US smartphone travel behaviours based on data from its comScore Mobile Metrix 2.0 service.
TripAdvisor Media Group led as the largest travel property with a smartphone audience of 6.7 million visitors, followed by Expedia Inc. with 6 million visitors and Southwest Airlines with 4.1 million visitors.
A demographic analysis revealed that women had a higher tendency than men to access OTA (Online Travel Agent) destinations on their smartphones, with Travelocity and Orbitz displaying the strongest gender skews among OTAs. Compared to the total travel category, females represented 14% more visitors to Expedia Inc., 12% more visitors to Kayak.com, and 22% more for Orbitz. The most evident gender difference among OTAs was demonstrated by Travelocity where 65.9% of the brand's smartphone audience was female. Priceline was the only OTA among the top 15 properties where men accounted for the majority of visitors at 53.4%.
Analysis of the share of time spent across apps and browsers revealed that travel category engagement was more evenly distributed among browser and app access when compared to the total internet distribution. In July, 53% of minutes spent on Travel category content originated from apps, with browsers accounting for 47% of minutes. In contrast, 83% of all mobile content was consumed via apps with only 17% being accounted for by browser usage.
Among top airline sites and apps, males accounted for nearly 3 in 4 visitors to Delta Airlines, while Southwest Airlines saw females account for 3 in 5 visitors. Hotel brands also saw men and women engage differently. InterContinental Hotels Groups and Wyndham Worldwide saw women account for the majority of smartphone visitors, while Hilton saw men represent 66.8% of its smartphone audience. Among top hotel brands, Marriot saw the most even distribution of its audience between males and females. (comScore, August 2012)
What motivates a traveller when using smartphones or tablets is not necessarily the same thing as when using a desktop or laptop, according to a Nielsen study, commissioned by call-tracking provider Telmetrics and advertising network xAd. The study was a mix of a survey of 1,500 US smartphone and tablet users and observations of actual behaviour by 6,000 Apple and Android users.
Here are the key points:
- Smartphones are used more to find and contact businesses, while tablets are used more for research, price comparisons, and reviews. In travel, tablet users went directly to familiar sites and apps (46%) or apps and sites they had previously used (49%) more often than they used search engines (merely 15%).
- One out of every two queries in travel results in a purchase. Thirty-three percent of mobile travel searchers want to complete the transaction within the day.
- Two out of three mobile users notice ads. Local businesses and local promotions seemed the most relevant and received the most clicks.
- US mobile device owners prefer apps, spending 81% of their time in apps instead of the mobile web.
The survey reports corroborate what has been reported in a separate study of mobile usage by Keynote Systems. It also dovetails with a report by research firm eMarketer that mobile internet use accounts for 10% of US media use but attracts only 1% of overall advertising spending.
Clicke here for the full infographic. (tnooz talking travel tech, August 2012)
52% of travellers use social media for summer vacation inspiration, according to infographic courtesy of MDG Advertising.
Mobile devices are quickly becoming portable, pocket travel agents, offering instant access to airfare prices, contact information, flight schedules and bookings. Facebook is the traveller's social network of choice, with 29% using this platform for holiday inspiration, ahead of TripAdvisor (14%), Twitter (6%) and Pinterest (4%).
PLANNING and BOOKING STAGES
Top mobile flight-related activities while planning a trip:
- Checked airfare prices: 26%
- Looked up a phone number: 25%
- Checked flight schedules: 25%
- Researched airport information: 24%
- Received price alerts for flights: 19%
- Booked a flight: 18%
Top mobile hotel-related activities while planning a trip:
- Looked up hotel address or directions: 29%
- Researched things to do at the destination: 23%
- Read a hotel review: 22%
- Compared hotel prices and availability: 21%
- Booked a hotel room: 18%
- Received price alerts for hotels: 18%
Once a trip is booked, social media users turn to Facebook to post about their upcoming trip and find more information about their destination. 52% ‘liked' a page specific to an upcoming vacation. 59% posted a status about an upcoming vacation.
DURING TRIP STAGE
Travellers using a mobile device to check flight status:
- 2011: 30%
- 2012: 50%
Travellers using a mobile device to check in for a flight:
- 2011: 17%
- 2012: 30%
Among travelling social media users, 74% use social media while on vacation.
Top ways travellers use mobile devices on vacation:
- Keep in touch: 68%
- Take pictures or video: 48%
- Schedule wake-up times: 46%
- Make reservations: 30%
- Find directions to attractions: 25%
Other ways travellers use mobile on vacation:
- Look up reviews for local businesses
- Translate languages
- Play games
- Calculate tips
AFTER TRIP STAGE
After returning from a vacation...:
- 76% post vacation photos to a social network
- 55% ‘like' Facebook pages specific to a vacation
- 46% post hotel reviews
- 40% post activity or attraction reviews
- 40% post restaurant reviews
(mediabistro, August 2012)
Mobile devices, with their flexibility and convenience, have the potential to streamline a number of facets of business travel, such as bookings, itineraries and expenses. But smartphone-owning US business travellers are also interested in a number of post-check-in hotel services provided via mobile, according to a June 2012 survey of smartphone-owning US business travellers by software provider Smith Micro.
Fully 79% of business travellers said they would avail themselves of check-in and checkout services offered on mobile.
Hotel services that US business travellers would use if made available via mobile devices, June 2012 (% of respondents):
- Checking in & out: 79%
- Special offers and discounts: 75%
- Guest services: 68%
- Business services: 54%
- None: 5%
The research also found sizeable majorities of business travellers who would take advantage of discounts or other deals received via mobile, as well as guest and business services offered on mobile. When it came to services currently used by business travellers, almost all (95%) were using high-speed internet. And half said they were using a hotel's business services. (eMarketer, July 2012)
US vacationers feel anxious when travelling without their mobile computing device, angry when they cannot access power sources to charge these devices and annoyed when others take uninvited glimpses of their computer screens, potentially compromising their personal information, according to a survey, "Tech Norms for Travelers" conducted by Intel Corporation and commissioned by TNS to explore American attitudes towards travel and technology.
The survey exposes the deepening love affair between travellers and their devices revealing Americans feel an emotional bond with their mobile devices to the point of feeling calmer and less stressed when they have access to this technology while vacationing:
- Nearly half of all travelers feel anxious without their mobile computing device.
- Nearly three-quarters of young Americans admit to suffering "outlet outrage" when traveling.
- "Peeping-tech" behaviors rank amongst travelers' top peeves while almost half fear device heists.
Today's traveller has increased expectations and views each connected minute as invaluable, desiring to create, consume and share safely with a mobile device that is easy on the eye, and the back, with style and design paired with performance and long battery life. (Aboutourism, June 2012)
US travellers head online as summer vacation approaches, according to a report by Nielsen. Whether consumers were making their plans for summer vacation or simply finding their way around town, over half of internet users visited Travel websites in April 2012.
Google Maps was the top web brand in the category during April, with 79 million unique US visitors, followed by other popular mapping sites like Mapquest (29.6 million) and Yahoo! Local (15.2 million). Visitors to Google Maps returned frequently, visiting the site about 5 times each on average, logging well over 1 billion pageviews on the site. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2012)
The internet remains the leading source for travel planning information in the US, according to the Traveler's Road to Decision 2011 by thinktravel with Google. The report found that 85% US personal travellers (up from 79% in 2009) used the internet as travel planning sources, against 78% among business travellers.
Travel planning sources:
- Internet: 85% among personal travellers / 78% among business travellers
- Family, friends, or colleagues: 60% / 38%
- Information brochures: 32% / 28%
- Magazines: 24% / 25%
- TV: 22% / 26%
- Travel agents: 18% / 36%
- Books: 18% / 19%
- Newspapers: 12% / 19%
- 800 or toll-free number: 11% / 23%
- Travel groups: 10% / 20%
- Radio: 7% / 14%
The report also found that:
- Use of mobile phones for travel info is growing significantly year on year; 51% among business traveller and 27% among personal travellers.
- Search remains the number 1 planning source for personal travel
- 43% of affluent travellers report that the internet prompted them to book (up from 38% in 2010)
- 54% of business travellers have downloaded a travel-related app onto their mobile phone
- Over 30% of personal travellers have watched a travel-related video on their mobile device in the past year
- 68% of business travellers watch travel-related videos (on desktop or mobile device), up from 56% two years ago.
(Thinkinsights, January 2012)
Chicago has become one of the hottest tourist destinations in the US, thanks mainly to its visitor site's use of cutting edge technologies and social media to market it.
ExploreChicago.org, the City of Chicago's Official Tourism site, has surpassed 6 million visits in 2011, the highest annual total since its 2009 launch and a 40% increase over last year.
In December 2011, Google invited ExploreChicago.org to provide Chicago tourism and travel content for its new magazine and trends reader, Google Currents.
Recent additions to ExploreChicago.org and other highlights include:
- A popular blog, launched in April 2011 to provide a unique insider's point of view of the city;
- Events, tours and attractions, searchable by date, neighbourhood and interest areas;
- Social media travel tools including free visitor assistance via Twitter (@explorechicago);
- Fun, location-based games including 11 free SCVNGR treks and Foursquare badges;
- Multimedia content such as videos, slideshows, podcasts and an itinerary builder.
(TravelMole, December 2011)
US business travellers do much of their travel planning through their managed travel programs, but once they are on the road they do a lot of research on their mobile devices in-destination, according to the findings of a PhoCusWright study, sponsored by Rearden Commerce, on business travellers' use of mobile.
With 84% reporting using smart phones for business use during travel, participants indicated their top three travel-related activities via mobile phone today are focused on location: mapping or finding directions (80%); researching local activities (63%); and researching destination information (55%).
The traveller's propensity to act on that location-based information via mobile phone is substantial, with 30% reporting they would like to receive personalized offers specific to their destination.
In one of the most interesting findings of the survey, 42% of business travellers indicated they access the mobile Web on their devices of choice to perform tasks that they wouldn't ordinarily do on their desktops. Some of this mobile-only activity included receiving flight-related alerts, tracking their travel spending and consulting their reservation information, according to Allison Jeannotte, Rearden's social media director.
75% of business travellers responded that they go online using their mobile phones. (tnooz, November 2011)
44% of US travellers plan on using their mobile phone or smartphone more as a travel resource during trips in 2012, according to TripAdvisor's annual travel trends survey of more than 2,700 US travellers.
Some of the findings from TripAdvisor's 2012 Travel Trends Forecast are as follows:
- 47% expect to use their mobile device for their travel needs at their destination.
- 37% will use a mobile device for restaurants research, 27% will use one for attractions research, and 26% will use one for accommodations research.
- 31% plan to use travel apps on their mobile device or smartphone in 2012.
- 16% plan to use travel apps on their tablet devices.
For their part, travel marketers continue to evaluate how travellers are consuming content for their travel requirements. The biggest influence on how content is consumed and its influence on consumers in making travel decisions is perhaps due to rich media, video and easy-to-use reservation tools. Used right, these can combine to provide flair (engagement) and functionality (getting the task done), resulting in more bookers.
Recently, SITA stated that the industry is entering the era of the mobile-centric passenger, who is not only able to manage his or her journey independently but also expects personal and timely communication from airlines, airports and other providers of travel-related services. Smartphone penetration is opening up new frontiers for passenger self-service across key steps of the passenger journey from check-in to boarding. Technology on mobile devices, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, can be used to improve passenger flow, alleviating areas of passenger concern such as queues at border control and security.
Hoteliers, too, acknowledge that there are plenty of apps in the marketplace as of today. Initiatives are being taken to engage users, rather than just offering booking-oriented options. For instance, recently, Hilton Garden Inn launched BizWords, a new interactive iPhone/iPad app, to help business travellers better navigate business jargon and acronyms that have become common in the workplace. (eyefortravel, November 2011)
In today's evolving search for trusted sources of information about destinations and travel service suppliers, there are clear differences in credibility ascribed by the different generational groups, according to Ypartnership.
It's common knowledge that younger members of our society consume media differently than their older counterparts. Message credibility also varies by medium across each of the major generational clusters, however, as revealed in the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM). This is particularly true when it comes to the use of online information sources.
When considering vacation destinations, input from family and friends still holds the most weight among all consumer groups, regardless of age. Approximately four out of five American travelers have the highest degree of confidence in personal recommendations.
Millennials (18-32 years of age), however, are more likely than their older counterparts to have confidence in the information they obtain from online sources such as blogs (54%), destination websites (53%) or things they have seen on YouTube or other online video sharing communities (35%).
Interestingly, Xers (33-46 years of age) are more likely than Millennials or Boomers (47-65 years of age) to trust information on the website of an online travel agency (63%) such as Expedia or Travelocity. They are also more likely than Boomers and/or Matures (66+ years of age) to have confidence in destination and lodging reviews on a blog (46%), information found on a company's or destination's website (53%), information in travel brochures (47%), articles in newspapers, magazines, programs on TV and radio (48%) or things they have seen on YouTube or other online video sharing community sites (29%).
Boomers are more likely than Matures to have confidence in reviews on blogs (32%) or information found in travel advertising (26%). They are less likely than their younger counterparts to have confidence in reviews on online advisory sites such as TripAdvisor (51%), however, or things they have read or seen on a social media sites such as facebook or Twitter (18%).
Not surprisingly, Matures are less likely than their younger counterparts to have confidence in online sources such as reviews or information appearing on an online travel agency website (43%) or online advisory site (35%). They are also less likely to have confidence in information found in travel brochures (34%) or travel advertising (19%). Compared to leisure travelers in the other generational cohorts, Matures are more likely to have confidence in the recommendations of a travel agent (51%).
The Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American TravelersSM is a national survey of 2,539 US households that was conducted in February 2011. The nationally representative results provide an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, social values and media habits on the travel habits of Americans with an annual household income of $50,000 or more. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, October 2011)
Within the funnel of information sources that drive purchases, new insights from the Ypartnership / Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of the American Travelers survey reveal that initial ideas and advice are obtained through personal relationships and trusted media. Internet sources dominate as travellers move closer toward purchasing decisions. Specifically, the key drivers for each phase of the travel decision-making process include:
- Step #1 - Ideas and inspiration: In this first stage, the role of family and friends is essentially tied with traditional media as the trusted source of information. The American traveller casts a wide net when seeking ideas and inspiration for travel-related decisions. Just over half look to family and friends (52%), alongside television (48%), and a variety of printed media including magazines (49%), professional guide books (46%) and brochures (43%).
- Step #2 - Advice and insight: The range of sources narrows in this next phase, as consumers move closer to making an actual purchase decision. The personal recommendations of family and friends still top the list (54%), followed by travel guide books (44%) and travel experts (38%). The internet grows in influence, with search websites such as Google and Bing.com utilized by nearly one in four travellers (38%), as well as destination websites (37%). Interestingly, the impact of brochures and television drops, revealing their role primarily as awareness-building, not advice-providing.
- Step #3 - Pricing and comparing: The internet moves to the forefront, as travellers explore a variety of online resources. Online travel agencies such as Expedia or Travelocity are utilized by more than half of travellers for gathering pricing information (56%) and impartial comparisons (51%). Travel service suppliers' websites (such as airline or hotel pages) are also sources for pricing (51%), but less so for comparisons (35%). Roughly a third turn to online search engines (37%) or multi-brand online platforms like Amazon and Hotels.com (35%), and destination websites (34%) for pricing. However, only one out of four travellers uses destination websites for comparison shopping.
- Step #4 - Purchasing: When it comes to purchasing the best deal, the funnel narrows to two main options - booking through an online travel agency (41%) or directly via a travel supplier's own web site (38%). Less than one in four travellers uses traditional travel agents (23%) when booking, followed distantly by multi-brand websites (18%) and destination websites (17%).
The Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM) is national survey of 2,539 US households that was conducted in February 2011. The nationally-representative results provide an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, social values and media habits on the travel habits of Americans with an annual household income of $50,000 or more. (TravelDailyNews, May 2011)
Experian Hitwise revealed the most popular travel websites in the US for the week ending May 7 2011 in the categories Agencies; Destinations and Accommodation; Airlines and travel search terms.
Top Destinations and Accommodation websites in the US for the week ending May 7 2011 by % of visits:
1. TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com): 6.85%
2. Hotels.com (www.hotels.com): 2.95%
3. Marriott International (www.marriott.com): 2.90%
Top Airline websites in the US for the week ending May 7 2011 by % of visits:
1. Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com): 22.86%
2. Delta Air Lines (www.delta.com): 12.17%
3. American Airlines (www.aa.com): 10.79%
Top Travel search terms in the US for the week ending May 7 2011 by % of clicks:
1. mapquest: 3.78%
2. google maps: 1.45%
3. maps: 0.81%
(tnooz - talking travel tech, May 2011)
Recently, Visit Orlando teamed up with Gowalla for a new way to experience the most-visited destination in the US. This initiative marks Visit Orlando's first foray into location-based services. It's been stated that this programme marks the first time proximity marketing has been used to encourage consumers in one city to visit another city. The plan is to offer consumers in select markets a way to experience Orlando's vacation experiences from the comfort of their hometown. The idea: If one lives in Austin, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia or Washington D.C., he or she may engage with Orlando without leaving their hometown through custom Orlando Trips on Gowalla. (eyefortravel, April 2011)
36.78% of all visits to the online travel industry in the US went to the top 10 websites for the month of February 2011, according to Hitwise Monthly Category Report - Travel. The report found that 46.85% of all visits went to the top 20 websites and 69.29% went to the top 100 websites.
The average visit duration for visits to the online travel industry was 6 minutes, 52 seconds for the month of February 2011. This is a minimal increase from last month's average visit duration of 6 minutes, 48 seconds.
The top 5 websites in the `travel' online industry for the month of February in the US, based on visits:
1. Google Maps (maps.google.com): 14.66%
2. MapQuest (www.mapquest.com): 5.95%
3. Expedia (www.expedia.com): 3.29%
4. Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com): 2.45%
5. priceline.com (www.priceline.com): 2.14%
The report also listed the most popular search terms for the four weeks ending 02/26/2011, that resulted in traffic to websites classified by Hitwise within the travel industry. For example, the most popular search term was `mapquest' representing 3.64% of all search terms that delivered users to websites classified by Hitwise within the travel industry. (eyefortravel, March 2011)
Compete asked nearly 800 online consumers to compare travel sites to non-travel websites across several attributes. Respondents were general online population rather than experienced travelers to control for any bias associated with online experienced travelers.
At a high level, travel sites were better than non-travel sites on all measures, which is a solid positive for the industry in general:
- Consistent with continued growth on use of online for travel, the biggest advantage for travel sites was "prices vs. the same products offline": 40% reported than online travel sites offer better prices than do offline locations, vs. 10% for non-travel sites. The magnitude of this advantage may reflect the diversity of traditional travel agents and the level of discounting now common in the online travel space.
- "Accuracy of information" and "ease of purchase" were also solid wins for travel. Accuracy may reflect some of the fixed elements associated with travel. For example, hotels are fixed locations and everyone has a pretty good idea what an airplane seat is and what extra legroom means.
Ease of purchase and ease of navigation, however, are most likely results the industry has earned on its own, driven by years of experience and the competitive nature of the travel industry. Ease of purchase results are also notable because of recurring focus on extra changes and "hidden" fees. Logically, the strength of travel including "accuracy" and "ease of purchase" should set the stage for better conversion of shoppers to buyers. (EyeForTravel, February 2011)
Three in four active travellers use a mobile device while travelling, according to a PhoCusWright study entitled "When They Get There, and Why They Go", sponsored by SIM Partners. Two-thirds say they are likely to research, shop and book travel activities via their mobile devices.
Mobile technologies, social networks and location-based search are already having a huge effect on consumers' trip planning, according to Jon Schepke, President of SIM Partners. But the impact is going to be even more profound going forward as we reach a tipping point in the adoption of smart phones and tablet PCs.
Schepke said that these trends offer travel marketers new and cost-efficient ways of connecting with consumers before, during and after their trips. Consumers will be able to access targeted information, promotions and offers when they need them most and are making decisions, so they are more likely to buy. He cautioned that destinations, hotels and travel attractions should have a mobile marketing strategy in place now to adapt to the fast-changing digital landscape and ensure that they are well-positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.
Among the other findings in the report:
- More than three in four active travellers cite traveller reviews and photos as very or moderately influential in choosing what to do. Nearly six in 10 cite user-generated video as influential and more than one in three cite content and promotions from companies.
- Consumers who spend the most on travel activities are the most influenced by web content such as interactive maps, blogs and social networks.
- One in two active travellers say they are likely to post comments to their social network. Four in 10 say they are likely to solicit advice from their social network.
This study reveals that consumers are ready to embrace the mobile-social-local digital revolution, according to Schepked. (Travelmole, January 2011)
Usablenet, a global technology leader that works with almost 200 Fortune 1000 companies, announced an over 200% increase in traffic across the mobile websites of its travel-related clients during the Blizzard of 2010. From December 26 - 28, stranded travellers have used Usablenet-powered mobile websites and applications to check flight statuses and reschedule flights, reserve hotel rooms, purchase bus tickets, and more.
Usablenet powers mobile websites for over 50 major travel companies including American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, JetBlue, US Airways, Amtrak, Bolt Bus, Hilton Hotels, Omni Hotels, Wyndham Hotels, and Starwood Hotels.
Apple's iPhone and smartphones running Google's Android operating system were the most popular devices used to access the mobile sites of Usablenet travel clients, with Android surpassing Blackberry for the first time among business travellers. (TravelDailyNews, December 2010)
Although many trips start with information gathered from internet search engines and social media sites, two "old-fashioned" information sources are still heavily used by would-be hotel guests, according to a survey released by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) entitled "How Travelers Use Online and Social Media Channels to Make Hotel-choice Decisions," by Laura McCarthy, Debra Stock, and Rohit Verma.
The study is available free of charge - see details in the Reports, Research & Studies section under the Online Travel heading.
The study found that the information source most frequently used by business travellers is their company's hotel recommendations, while the top source for leisure travellers by far is the recommendations of family and friends.
Verma, who is a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and CHR executive director indicated that to begin with, most travellers cast a fairly wide net when they are gathering information for their trip. This early stage is where travellers consult social media and search engines, in addition to more traditional channels. When it's time to book, however, travellers most frequently used hotel websites and online travel agents.
Based on responses of 2,830 recent travellers, the social media study confirmed differences in travellers' hotel search process depending on travel purpose. The study also outlines which types of internet site people are most likely to visit at various stages of their hotel-selection process. (TravelDailyNews, December 2010)
Encompassing the largest share of visits within the travel industry in the US, Urban Commuter Families consist of upscale, college educated Baby Boomer families and couples living in comfortable, single detached homes in city neighborhoods on the metropolitan fringe. Their top travel-related activity is 'cruise ship vacations', according to Hitwise.
Most popular websites in travel ranked by visits from Mosaic USA Type B03: Urban Commuter Families (4 rolling weeks ending November 13, 2010):
1. Google Maps: 14.64% (segmented visits)
2. MapQuest: 7.35%
3. Southwest Airlines: 2.65%
4. Expedia: 2.61%
5. Bing maps: 1.83%
6. Yahoo! Maps: 1.83%
7. priceline.com: 1.72%
8. Yahoo! Travel: 1.65%
9. TripAdvisor: 1.62%
10. Orbitz: 1.36%
(Experian Hitwise North America Newsletter - November 2010, November 2010)
A new YPartnership-Harrison Group survey casts doubt on the influence of social media when it comes to American travellers' selections of destinations and travel suppliers.
In fact, only 6% of respondents indicated that information or feedback from a social networking site was the primary basis for a decision about a destination to visit or a travel supplier to use for their leisure or business trip, the survey found.
The national survey, "2010 Portrait of American Travelers," gauged the travel sentiments of more than 2,500 US adults with annual households incomes of $50,000 or greater. To qualify, respondents had to have taken at least one business or leisure trip in the previous 12 months that took them at least 75 miles from home.
Peter Yesawich, the YPartnership chairman and CEO, attributed the low confidence in social media among respondents to the fact that survey participants viewed social media primarily as a vehicle to interact with friends and share information rather than a commercial-oriented forum. Also, he adds, respondents held other media sources for travel advice in much higher regard than social media.
The following are the percentages of travellers indicating they were "very/extremely" confident in various media sources for destination and travel supplier decisions. Note that Facebook/Twitter (19%) and YouTube (14%) scored lowest among the various categories:
- Family/friend recommendations (81%)
- Travel guidebooks (57%)
- Online travel agents (54%)
- Online advisory sites (53%)
- Company/destination sites (46%)
- Travel agents (46%)
- Media coverage (43%)
- Brochures (39%)
- Blogs (33%)
- Travel advertising (27%)
- Facebook/Twitter (19%)
- YouTube (14%)
(tnooz - talking travel tech, November 2010)
Nearly 10% of Brits use Google Street View before choosing their holiday destination, according to a poll by coupon code and discount sites, www.CouponCodes4U.com, the figure reaches 34% among Americans.
Nearly a third of Americans said they had previously used the internet service Google Street View to check out the destination before deciding. The poll found:
- 21% of Americans said that it gave them a good idea as to whether they would like it
- a further 42% admitted they thought they would be able to tell if it was "good value for money" based on location and surroundings
- 51% said they would often compare destinations and prices before they made a decision
- 1 in 10 said they would wait for a last minute deal before booking a holiday, as this would make it cheaper
In contrast just 9% of Brits admitted using the service for their holidays, of these over half admitted that it wouldn't be the deciding factor and was merely a way of getting an idea of where they were going. Just fewer than 75% of Brits said that they thought that the weather was the most important factor in deciding where to go on holiday.
Mark Pearson, chairman of CouponCodes4U.com said that Google Street View can most definitely be a good way to pick a holiday destination, although he doesn't think anyone should ever base their decision purely on what they have seen on the site.
The company asked 6,286 Americans and 1,287 Brits how do they decide where they will go on holiday. (Travelmole, October 2010)
Three out of ten cell phones in use in the US are now "smartphones" with internet connectivity. And one of the most intriguing questions facing travel service marketers is how travelers are using these devices to plan, purchase and share information about both destinations and travel service suppliers. The results of Ypartnership report entitled 2010 Portrait of American TravelersSM provide some insightful answers.
In 2010, nearly two in ten travelers (19%) have downloaded a travel-related application (app) to their smartphone. Among them, nearly half have navigated a destination using the built in GPS functionality or searched for the latest information on flight schedules and delays. Nearly three in ten have compared airfares or hotel rates or shared information or photos about their travel experiences using their smartphone. Approximately one in six has booked air travel or lodging or viewed a virtual visitor guide that provides information on things to do and see while visiting a destination. Finally, more than one in ten active travelers has used their smartphone to download and redeem mobile coupons, while one in twenty has downloaded an audio walking tour of a specific destination:
Activities engaged in with a smartphone by Americans in 2010:
- Navigate a destination using your phone's GPS functionality: 47%
- Search for the latest information on flight schedules and delays: 46%
- Comparison shop airfares and hotel rates: 29%
- Share information and photos about your travel experiences: 28%
- Book air travel or lodging: 18%
- View virtual visitor guides that provide information on things to do and see in a destination: 15%
- Download and use mobile coupons from your phone: 11%
- Download an audio walking tour of a destination to your phone: 6%
Clearly, mobile devices are destined to play an increasingly important role in the distribution and sale of travel services in years ahead. (Ypartnership, August 2010)
According to Hitwise data, Google proved to be the greatest source of traffic for the U.S. travel industry with 30.41% of travel searches in July, a 6% gain over last year. With 3%, Bing had the smallest share of travel searches, but the most significant increase with 69%.
Google, on the other hand, proved to be the greatest source of traffic for key U.S. industries. The search giant represented 23.42% of automotive searches (a 7% gain over last July), 20.22% of shopping searches (a 7% annual gain) and 30.41% of travel searches (a 6-% gain over last year). Notably, the gains in travel searches may be linked to Google's proposed acquisition of travel software company ITA, which Brafton covered in July.
Bing had the smallest share of vertical searches, but had the most significant annual increases in July 2010. It demonstrated year-on-year gains of 77% in the automotive industry, 33% in the health industry, 84% in the shopping industry and 69% in the travel industry - though it accounted for less than 3% of each of these industries' searches.
Ask.com also showed significant gains in July 2010. The community-based search engine increased in market share by 6%, accounting for 2.32% of searches last month. While it still has a long way to go, even to catch up to search third-runner Bing, its quick ascent indicates users like social search features, which Ask rolled out last month. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, August 2010)
Overall site performance is critical for US travelers who expect quick page load times for travel websites, according to the results of a study conducted by PhoCusWright on behalf of Akamai entitled "The Consumer Response to Travel Site Performance".
Key findings from the study include:
- The 3 second rule: 57% of online shoppers will wait three seconds or less before abandoning the site.
- Younger travellers are less patient - Generation Y and younger travellers are less patient than older travelers when it comes to page load times. 65% of 18-24 year olds expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less.
- Prevention is key: a 1/3 of travellers would be less likely to visit a site after experiencing technical problems like slowness or errors on the page. Business travellers are slightly more likely to have a negative reaction.
- Loyalty is not forgiveness: active loyalty program members are more likely than other travellers to indicate that they would not likely be influenced at all by technical glitches at 34%. However, the remaining 66% are actually more likely than others to have strong negative reactions.
- Travellers tend to be multi-taskers: 59% of consumers do something else when waiting for a travel website to load. Nearly a fifth (19%) open another travel site in a new window when made to wait.
- Hidden fees may cost you: 43% of online shoppers have abandoned a booking because the final product price and/or fees were higher than they were willing to pay.
The study also examines travelers' reactions to technical issues. Findings reveal that many travellers are guided by their previous experiences with a particular website, and for just over a third of consumers (34%), a technical glitch will lower their likelihood to visit a site again. Business travellers and loyalty program members are less tolerant of technical problems, and are slightly more likely to have a negative reaction to them. Research shows that these groups of online shoppers are also the most valuable customers for online travel sites. Thus, the stakes for site performance and streamlined, transparent transactions are even higher for companies targeting these segments.
The study is based on the feedback of 2,763 US-based travellers interviewed between January 12-28 2010 about the status of their current online expectations and key elements of the online consumer experience. (Travel Industry Wire, June 2010)
40.23% of all visits to the online 'Travel' industry in the US went to the top 10 websites for the month of May 2010. 49.48% went to the top 20 websites and 69.81% went to the top 100 websites, according to the Hitwise Travel Report.
Top 10 websites in the 'Travel' online industry in the US for the month of May 2010 based on visits:
1. Google Maps maps.google.com: 15.50% market share
2. MapQuest www.mapquest.com: 9.24%
3. Expedia www.expedia.com: 3.24%
4. priceline.com www.priceline.com: 2.00%
5. Southwest Airlines www.southwest.com: 1.91%
6. Travelocity www.travelocity.com: 1.90%
7. Yahoo! Maps maps.yahoo.com: 1.77%
8. TripAdvisor www.tripadvisor.com: 1.68%
9. Orbitz www.orbitz.com: 1.53%
10. Yahoo! Travel travel.yahoo.com: 1.45%
The travel category lists those sites which are related to travel and the travel industry, including publications, travel agencies, transport services/people carriers, airports, destinations, resorts, travel and locality guides and accommodation. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2010)
With the growth of smartphones, savvy travellers are beginning to lock in on the advantages of hotel and airline applications to save them time and money. One in ten (10%) respondents to a Deloitte survey have used a hotel application on a web-enabled smartphone. Respondents who have used a hotel application have used it to: book a room, access their loyalty program account, view/modify/cancel an existing hotel room reservation, pay a hotel bill, check-in and check-out.
The internet continues to play an important role in travelers' decision-making processes and social media has evolved into a valuable resource, as well. One in two (50%) respondents have used a computer or web-enabled smartphone to research information online about a hotel, while almost half (47%) have researched information online about a flight. 16% of respondents have read a positive consumer-generated comment about a hotel/motel, which influenced their decision to book a room at that facility, and 13% have used a social media site to research or plan a trip.
The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company between April 27 and May 5 2010. The survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,001 consumers. The survey has a margin of error of +/- three percentage points. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2010)
American tourists are turning in increasing numbers to online reviews of hotels and destinations, according to the outcome of a survey conducted by Menlo Consulting Group.
The ‘TravelStyles USA Study' reports that nearly 75% of US travellers to Asia read online reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor.com or Yahoo!Travel. This latest TravelStyles USA survey identifies key travel trends, examines the growing use of mobile technologies and social media for travel and places substantial emphasis on the impact of the down economy on Americans' intentions to travel overseas. (PATA Newsletter, April 2010)
Over a third of US consumers (34%) report that a technical glitch will lower their likelihood of visiting a travel Web site again, according to the Consumer Responses to Travel Site whitepaper by Akamai and PhoCusWright.
The whitepaper indicates that business travellers in particular are less tolerant of glitches than leisure travellers. (PhoCusWright, April 2010)
More than 4 in 10 smartphone owners in the US would find trip planning apps useful if they notified them of schedule and rate changes, consolidated itineraries or helped manage loyalty programs, according to data from Compete.
Travel-related mobile apps that US smartphone owners believe would be useful for trip planning, February 2010 (% of respondents):
- Notifies me of unplanned schedule changes for booked trips: 52%
- Notifies me of rate changes for planned or booked trips: 48%
- Consolidates all my travel reservations into one itinerary: 42%
- Helps me manage my rewards, points and loyalty points with multiple companies: 41%
Nearly 2/5 of smartphone owners reported doing at least some of their leisure travel research on their mobile device, and more than a quarter completed at least some of their bookings on their phone. In addition, a fifth of smartphone owners were interested in receiving travel Website advertisements on their device.
While the industry had been slow to respond to consumer interest, app development has heated up. Hotel Internet marketing firm Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS) found that almost a quarter of hoteliers worldwide are planning to develop an iPhone app this year.
Mobile marketing initiatives hoteliers worldwide plan to implement in 2010 (% of respondents):
- SMS text marketing: 27.6%
- Mobile site: 25.9%
- iPhone app: 24.1%
- Mobile booking engine: 22.4%
- Mobile banner advertising: 19.0%
- I am not planning on mobile marketing initiatives for 2010: 32.8%
Many also plan to get on board with SMS marketing, mobile sites and mobile booking capabilities. That should help them get a piece of the increased bookings expected via mobile this year; PhoCusWright predicts US travellers will spend $76 million on direct domestic hotel bookings through a mobile device. (eMarketer, April 2010)
It appears that the old addage, "the customer is always right," still rings true, at least in the world of social media. What a consumer experiences on their travels is readily available to the global population via social websites. And the people who read this information, use that input to make their decisions about how they will book their trips, according to the findings from a PhoCusWright study, which analyzed 1.9 million traveller reviews and visitor referral and conversion traffic. This coincided with researching over 50 social travel websites, including social networking sites.
A key finding showed that users are less passive, with the shift from searching and consuming, to collaborating and commentating. The new dynamic in which the user generates further content, also paves the way in which social media commentators have the potential to influence other travellers, suppliers, products, and services. Promising figures show a 34% increase in monthly visitors to social travel websites between 1H08 and 2H09. This shows the growth in the online travel industry last year, despite the global economic downturn.
The report suggested the industry should aim to better understand the needs of consumers and improve their communication channels in order to keep up-to-date with social media trends. (eTN eTurboNews Global Travel Industry News, April 2010)
US travellers made an average of 21 visits to various travel Web sites in 2009 before finally booking a trip, according to figures by Compete.com. That's a lot of time surfing the Web and a possible business opportunity for travel sites that can make that search faster and easier.
These meta-search sites (among them, Kayak.com, Fly.com and Momondo.com) don't sell plane tickets or control bookings at hotel rooms. Rather, they search hundreds of travel sites at once in a quest to identify the best rates and then send consumers to book directly at the seller's site.
All have recently been raising their profiles: Kayak with a new TV ad campaign that trumpets its supposed primacy ("Search One and Done"); Momondo, a Danish company, with a site that boasts it is "the best flight search engine" on the Web; and Fly, with one-on-one sessions with reporters from The New York Times and other publications asserting that its fares either match or better Kayak's in "46 of 50 top markets."
Kayak, Fly and another meta-search site, Bing Travel from Microsoft, all work with ITA Software for certain search capabilities and access to fares. ITA pulls fares from the Airline Tariff Publishing Company, which collects prices from 500 airlines worldwide. That means many of the meta-search sites are dipping into the same pool of data. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, February 2010)