|Online Travel Market|
|Travel Industry Online Developments|
60% of American travellers use TripAdvisor when choosing a hotel, but YouTube is the second-most popular resource, according to findings from MMGY Global's 2013 Portrait of American Travelers study. MMGY Global's Peter Yesawich predicts that it could soon reach parity with the popular travel site. The culture of users hasn't migrated, Yesawich said of the social media platforms. They still have value to add to the commentary.
The study takes an in-depth look at the current travel climate, habits, preferences and intentions of affluent American travellers. Some of other key findings are summarised below:
- Millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, are the new up-and-coming niche market, Yesawich said. Many of them are eager to try new experiences and, unlike the previous generation, do not want to do the same thing twice. Millennials are increasingly turning to travel professionals for advice rather than OTAs. They have better things to do and they want value, so they will pay for the service.
- Traditionalists, those aged 68 and above, take the longest trips as, being retired, they have the most time. They also spend more on all aspects of travel. Both markets can be valuable for all kinds of travel, but it is vital to know how to approach each one.
- A full two-thirds of travellers now have some kind of smartphone, and 31% own a smartphone as well as some sort of tablet. Social media is also a growing force in promoting travel, whether it's a hotel's channel on YouTube or a traveller's personal photo album on Facebook. (Nearly half of the survey respondents who use social media are millennials).
(HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2013)
Mobile and travel trends are converging among US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) consumers, highlighting this demographic as a target for digital travel marketers.
LGBT consumers have substantial means to vacation: A November 2012 report from Out Now Global estimated the US LGBT travel market at $52.3 billion in 2012. According to 2011 US Census Data, 45.5% of unmarried male-male couples had a combined income of more than $100,000, compared with 34.7% of unmarried female-female couples, and 33.5% of married male-female couples.
Smartphone adoption among gay and lesbian web users reached record heights in 2012, at 91% and 82%, respectively, with approximately two out of five gay and lesbian consumers purchasing a smartphone last year, according to Community Marketing, Inc.'s ‘2012 LGBT Community Survey: US Overview Report 6th Annual Edition'. In addition, about 30% of respondents to Community Marketing's survey said they purchased major vacations in 2012, representing the second-largest purchase category behind smartphones. Further highlighting gay and lesbian uptake of mobile, about one in five consumers in each subdemographic purchased a tablet in 2012.
Tying these two trends together, Digitas' "LGBT Leading the Mobile Era" report from May 2013 found that US LGBT smartphone users looked to their devices regularly to plan personal vacations.
US LGBT smartphone users who have used their smartphone to plan or purchase travel, May 2013 (% of respondents):
- Flights and/or airfares for personal/vacation: 30.4% (Plan) / 9.7% (Purchase)
- Hotels for personal/vacation: 26.3% / 10.3%
- Flights and/or airfares for work: 15.9% / 5.7%
- Rental cars: 12.5% / 5.5%
- Vacation packages (bundle of air, hotel and/or car, etc.): 10.5% / 1.8%
- Hotels for work: 9.6% / 4.2%
- Cruises: 8.0% / 1.4%
- Tours: 6.6% / 1.6%
More than 30% of respondents to the Digitas survey planned leisure flights on their smartphones, and more than one-quarter sought hotel accommodations for those vacations using the device. About 10% purchased travel in each of those categories via their smartphone.
Tablet usage for travel purchasing is growing as well. The Digitas survey reported that 15% of LGBT smartphone owners and the same percentage of tablet owners purchased hotels via their respective devices in the preceding three months.
Products that US LGBT mobile users have purchases using their smartphone or tablet, May 2013 (% of respondents):
- Music: 31% (smartphone) / 17% (tablet)
- Mobile games for myself: 28% / 17%
- Daily deals or discount coupons: 24% / 11%
- Ticket(s) to an event: 22% / 15%
- Mobile apps for travel: 21% / 10%
- Meals for pickup or delivery: 21% / 9%
- Clothing/accessories: 18% / 18%
- Hotel nights: 15% / 15%
- Mobile games for my child/children: 5% / 4%
- Other: 27% / 15%
eMarketer estimates that US mobile travel sales will reach $13.6 billion this year, as 25.5 million consumers book on mobile; the LGBT demographic is sure to be well represented among this group. (eMarketer, June 2013)
Nearly 50 million US consumers will research travel on their smartphones and tablets in 2013, accounting for approximately 40% of all digital travel researchers, according to eMarketer. (eMarketer, May 2013)
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)
A new VFM Leonardo whitepaper reveals the latest trends in hotel research methods including the emergence of multi-device research by consumers, and tips for successfully connecting with consumers across the web.
Online shoppers are increasingly savvy and willing to spend more online. Online shoppers in the US spent $226 billion online in 2012, and that number will climb to $327 billion in 2016, according to estimates by Forrester Research. Forrester says this continued growth is spurred by consumers' greater comfort level with purchasing online, as well as broader web shopping capabilities with mobile and tablet devices.
Traveler shoppers are no different from average shoppers. They use the internet for research and for purchasing more than ever. Eighty-three per cent of leisure travellers use the internet as part of their travel planning; and 65% begin researching online before they've even decided where or how to travel.
Travel consumers are also comparison shoppers. They use all sorts of information to help with their decision-making and that information is found on many different websites, across many different platforms and devices. In fact, mobile browsing of travel websites has more than doubled in the past 12 months to an average 20.5% of all traffic surveyed. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2013)
Vacation rental online bookings surged in the US, jumping from just 12% of the overall vacation rental market in 2007 to 24% in 2012, according to a PhoCusWright ‘US Vacation Rentals 2009-2014: A Market Reinvented' report.
The market's complexity and fragmentation bring lingering challenges, but strong online momentum will continue to drive rapid growth. By 2014, three in ten US dollars spent on vacation rental will be booked online - an online travel penetration just a few points shy of the hotel and lodging segment. (PhoCusWright, May 2013)
US digital travel sales (which include leisure and unmanaged business travel purchased online and via mobile devices) will slowly but steadily increase between 2013 and 2017, achieving a 5.36% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to eMarketer report ‘US Digital Travel Sales: Mobile Drives Changes in a Mature Marketplace'. The total will reach $136.4 billion in 2013, an 8% increase from 2012.
US digital travel sales, 2011-2017:
- 2011: $113.9 million (15.1% change)
- 2012: $126.3 million (10.8%)
- 2013: $136.4 million (8.0%)
- 2014: $145.2 million (6.5%)
- 2015: $153.2 million (5.5%)
- 2016: $160.9 million (5.0%)
- 2017: $168.1 million (4.5%)
Despite these gains, travel will continue to lose share as a subset of overall business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce because online travel is considerably more mature than other types of online retail. eMarketer estimates that travel made up approximately 36% of all B2C ecommerce sales in 2012, but by 2016, that share will drop to less than 30% and continue to fall steadily.
Digital travel as a percentage of total travel will remain high, however. Digital travel sales accounted for more than 40% of total travel sales in 2012, according to PhoCusWright figures released in November 2012.
Data specifically identifying internet users who have travelled in the past year shows high digital researcher and booker penetration levels across all travel categories. In their May 2012 "Consumer Barometer" survey, Google, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe and TNS Infratest found that 81% of US internet users who had booked travel in the past 12 months had researched their trips online, while 74% of respondents had booked online.
US travel buyers who research vs. pirchase travel products online, May 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
- Hotel stays: 86% researched online before purchasing vs. 73% who purchased online
- Package holidays: 82% vs. 70%
- Leisure flights: 81 vs. 76%
- Total travel: 81% vs. 74%
During the recession, online travel agencies (OTAs) achieved prominence and sped up the trend toward booking travel online. As the economy continues to strengthen, travel brands are focusing on reversing this trend and driving more full-price bookings directly from their own websites - a model known as ‘direct distribution'. According to PhoCusWright, this strategy has so far been successful, and by 2014, two-thirds of all online bookings for hotels, cruises and airline tickets will be made through suppliers' websites, rather than through third-party OTAs.
Hotel data from TravelClick confirmed that all online channels are gaining market share in terms of actual reservations as well. (TravelClick's data covers the top 25 markets in North America, all of which are in the US save Toronto.) Hotel websites (the leading reservations channel for all online and offline bookings) gained more than half a percentage point in market share in 2012, growing from 26.1% to 26.7%. During that time, OTAs' market share rose more sharply from a smaller base, garnering 10.4% of total hotel bookings, up from 9.5% in 2011.
While digital travel sales overall will experience slow, steady growth during the next few years, one component will grow sharply: mobile booking. eMarketer's estimate for mobile travel sales (which includes both tablets and smartphones) will nearly double this year, increasing from $7 billion to $13.6 billion. The 2013 estimate will account for 10% of the total digital travel market. By 2017, eMarketer estimates mobile travel sales will total nearly $50 billion, and account for almost 30% of all digital travel sales.
US mobile travel sales, 2011-2017:
- 2011: $3.4 billion (3.0% of digital travel sales)
- 2012: $7.0 billion (5.5%)
- 2013: $13.6 billion (10.0%)
- 2014: $23.2 billion (16.0%)
- 2015: $32.2 billion (21.0%)
- 2016: $40.2 billion (25.0%)
- 2017: $48.8 billion (29.0%)
(eMarketer, May 2013)
A new study from Mobiquity of 1,000 US consumers has shed further light on what travellers are doing with their mobiles and tablets, examining the role of both devices in the research and booking phases of the so-called travel cycle.
Highlights and infographics of the report include:
- Poor mobile experiences with travel brands impact future revenues, with 35% of connected travellers who have an unsatisfactory mobile experience with a travel brand less likely to book again.
- After research on their tablets, 1 in 4 tablet owners book on their tablets.
- Tablet is preferred for booking future travel, smartphones for on-the-go.
- 76% of smartphone will use their devices to book travel or rooms when on-the-go.
How people book travel after researching on tablet:
- Online via a desktop: 54%
- Via mobile website on tablet: 26%
- Via mobile app on tablet: 16%
- Via mobile website on smartphone: 8%
- By phone with the brand: 9%
- Via mobile app on smartphone: 9%
How people book travel after researching on smartphone:
- Online via desktop: 62%
- Via mobile website on smartphone: 19%
- Via mobile app on smartphone: 15%
- Via mobile website on tablet: 12%
- By phone with the brand: 11%
- Via mobile app on tablet: 9%
(tnooz, April 2013)
Tealeaf Technology's ‘The Digital Consumer' report from September 2012 broke down tablet usage by age across industries in the US and the UK. In its study of travel research and booking on tablets, there was only one similarity between the two markets: Consumers in the 35-to-44 age group were the most likely to research travel via tablet. One in five UK consumers were tablet travel researchers, compared to a quarter of US consumers in the same age group.
US internet users who have researched or purchased travel products via tablet, by age, September 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
- 18-24: 3% researched and 13% purchased travel
- 25-34: 18% and 9%
- 35-44: 25% and 9%
- 45-54: 16% and 1%
- 55+: 10% and 3%
Otherwise, travel research and booking behaviours on tablets differed noticeably in the two countries. For example, 19% of UK consumers ages 25 to 34 researched travel via tablet, but only 5% booked. A slightly lower percentage of US consumers in that age group researched travel on tablets; however, 9% booked.
According to the study, these trends reversed as consumers aged. UK consumers ages 35 and over were less likely to research travel on tablets than US consumers, but were as likely, or more likely, to book. Looking at the 45-to-54 age group, Tealeaf found that only 8% of UK consumers researched travel via tablet, but 5% booked. On the other hand, 16% of US consumers in the same age group researched, but only 1% booked.
Based on this study, the implications for travel marketers are clear: Younger US consumers and older UK consumers are more likely to yield higher tablet conversion rates. (eMarketer, April 2013)
Industry websites' performance varies across devices and metrics, according to a January 2013 study by Adobe examining how various industries' US websites stacked up in terms of site performance.
When it comes to how long consumers spend on websites, for instance, Adobe found that the top-performing site in the travel and hospitality industry ranked second in January 2013, with over 9 minutes per visit (9.29 minutes), while the average site performance for the industry stood at 7.70 minutes per visit. Adobe noted that adding video and rich media to websites helped boost minutes per visit.
Time spent on US websites in selected industries, top-performing site vs. average, January 2013:
1. Media & entertainment: 11.84 minutes for top-performing site vs. an average over all this industry site of 8.88 minutes
2. Travel & hospitality: 9.29 minutes vs. average of 7.70 minutes
3. Retail: 8.81 minutes vs. average of 7.51 minutes
4. High tech: 7.76 minutes vs. average of 7.15 minutes
5. Financial services: 6.77 minutes vs. average of 6.09 minutes.
Overall, travel and hospitality pages averaged the highest stick rate, while media and entertainment fared worst by this measure. But, the top-performing site with the highest stick rate was from the financial services industry. Adobe suggested that stick rate is an important indicator of acquisition and engagement. The more consumers engaged with content, the likelier they were to convert.
Average of stick rate of US websites in selected industries, January 2013:
1. Travel & hospitality: 57%
2. Retail: 55%
3. Financial services: 52%
4. High tech: 45%
5. Media & entertainment: 39%
More disparity surfaced between the top-performing site vs. average site peformance when it came to tablet and smartphone traffic. According to Adobe, the top-performing site that got the greatest share of traffic from smartphones was again in the media and entertainment category, with top-performing retail sites and travel and hospitality closely trailing behind. The average percent of internet traffic coming from smartphones to these categories was over 10% for each.
When it comes to tablets, retailers, perhaps unsurprisingly, take a fair amount of internet traffic. The top-performing retailer site studied got 13% of internet traffic from tablets. Travel's top-performing site trailed closely behind, with 12.6% of internet traffic from tablets.
Sites optimized for tablets and smartphones are more likely to encourage mobile purchases, and conversion will be increasingly important on the devices going forward. eMarketer expects US mobile buyers to reach nearly 73 million this year, up 38% from 2012. (eMarketer, March 2013)
US travel e-commerce sales reached US$103 billion for the full 2012 year, an increase of 9% versus the prior year, according to comScore Full Year and Q4 2012 US travel e-commerce sales estimates. Air Travel accounted for nearly two-thirds of all travel spending while growing 10% vs. year ago.
2012 travel spending by sub-category, full year 2012 (total US - home and work computers):
TOTAL TRAVEL E-COMMERCE: US$102,951 million (+9% compared to 2011)
- Air travel: US$66,529 million (+10%), representing 65% share of travel spending
- Hotel reservations: US$19,384 million (+7%), representing 19% share of travel spending
- Car rental: US$9,698 million (+6%), representing 9% share of travel spending
- Travel packages: US$5,140 million (+10%), representing 5% share of travel spending
- Other travel: US$2,200 million (+10%), representing 2% share of travel spending
(comScore, February 2013)
Mobile travel bookings may have started out as a footnote on the balance sheet, but smartphones and tablets are on track to capture nearly one in five online travel dollars by 2014, according to PhoCusWright's ‘US Mobile Travel Report: Market Sizing and Consumer Trends' report.
The study found that mobile leisure/unmanaged business travel bookings will more than triple from 2012 to 2014, when mobile bookings will reach US$25.8 billion.
While using a mobile phone to purchase travel products is not yet mainstream, the share of travelers who have done so is growing. In 2012, three in ten mobile web users booked/purchased travel products such as hotel rooms or flights via their mobile phone, up from 26% in 2011. By comparison, more than eight in ten mobile web users viewed maps/directions via a mobile phone, while over half researched travel destinations or products. (PhoCusWright FYI, February 2013)
The travel industry is highly focused on mobile bookings, but research shows that many consumers are still not ready to make large travel purchases via mobile devices.
More than three-quarters of US travellers had purchased travel on a PC in the past six months, according to an Expedia Media Solutions and comScore study ‘The Rise of Mobile: Adoption, Sentiment & Opportunity' conducted in August 2012.
On mobile devices, travellers who had made other product purchases on their mobile devices were much more hesitant to book travel: only 34% had booked travel through their tablet in that timeframe, and 28% had booked via smartphone.
US travellers who have purchased products or booked travel through selected devices, August 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
- PC: 85% purchased product; 77% booked travel
- Tablet: 61% purchased product; 34% booked travel
- Smartphone: 51% purchased product; 28% booked travel.
Breaking down these purchases by travel category, the Expedia and comScore study also found that more than half of these US travellers purchased hotel reservations via laptop, while only 17% booked hotels via tablet, and 11% via smartphone. Likewise, 46% of air travelers purchased flights on their PC, but only about one in 10 used either tablets or smartphones to buy airfare in the past six months.
US travellers who use selected devices to book travel, by category, August 2012 (% of respondents):
- Hotel: 51% via PC / 17% via Tablet / 11% via Smartphone
- Air travel: 46% via PC / 11% via Tablet / 9% via Smartphone
- Ground transport: 21% via PC / 10% via Tablet / 7% via Smartphone
- Attractions/activities: 14% via PC / 10% via Tablet / 10% via Smartphone
- Restaurant: 10% via PC / 9% via Tablet / 10% via Smartphone
- TOTAL: 77% via PC / 34% via Tablet / 28% via Smartphone
These bigger travel buys via mobile devices trail PC purchases by a wide margin; however, travellers were about as likely to make in-destination travel bookings (such as attractions, activities and restaurants) through tablets or smartphones as through a computer. Notably, a minimum of about one in 10 travellers used mobile devices for nearly all types of travel bookings, regardless of price. (eMarketer, December 2012)
40% of US online travel consumers entered the purchase funnel through search engines, according to a Q2 2012 survey from iPerceptions. And as smartphones and tablets become more ubiquitous, some of that search traffic is coming from mobile.
Notably, The Search Agency's "State of Paid Search Report Q3 2012" found that tablets gained a full 8 percentage points of paid click share year-over-year, while smartphones also jumped 3 percentage points in that time period.
US travel and leisure paid search click share, by device, Q3 2011 - Q3 2012 (% of total):
Q3 2011: computer (94.7%) / Tablet (3.8%) / Smartphone (1.4%)
Q4 2011: computer (91.9%) / Tablet (6.2) / Smartphone (1.9%)
Q1 2012: computer (88.1%) / Tablet (8.7%) / Smartphone (3.2%)
Q2 2012: computer (85.9%) / Tablet (10.4%) / Smartphone (3.7%)
Q3 2012: computer (83.8%) / Tablet (11.8%) / Smartphone (4.4%)
Of course, nearly 84% of all paid search travel clicks still occurred on the PC in Q3 2012, and mobile's growth may be at least partially attributed to the relative newness of the medium.
When it came to engagement with paid search travel ads, The Search Agency also reported that US overall paid search clickthrough rates (CTRs) for travel and leisure dropped considerably year-over-year from Q3 2011, falling 34%, from 7.94% down to 5.28%. Despite the precipitous decline, though, travel and leisure still leads all US industries in CTRs by a notable margin, with clickthrough rates 38% higher than the next best clickthrough performer. The report noted that the decline was mainly due to the fact that impressions increased by 59% while clicks increased by only 6%, which points to increased competition in the search engine marketing (SEM) space. (eMarketer, December 2012)
Clearly, mobile is a channel with huge potential, but mobile travel booking significantly lags behind mobile travel research. eMarketer expects the gap to narrow slightly by 2016, but the number of actual bookers still will be only half that of travel researchers. By comparison, the ratio of online travel bookers to online travel researchers in 2012 is closer to 4:5.
Despite the obstacles, there is a small but significant amount of travel booking being done via smartphone. And much of that booking is same-day purchases, according to eMarketer. When travel shoppers use their mobile phones, they tend to be looking for a last-minute flight, car rental or hotel room. Recent data reported by some of the largest online travel agencies showed just how common last-minute booking is: Both Orbitz and Travelocity have reported that more than 60% of hotel bookings made on mobile phones were for the same day.
Consumers are using smartphones to guide their travels from start to finish, whether that's for last-minute bookings, connecting to destination-related information or seeking personalized recommendations.
Numerous challenges, however, are slowing the mass adoption of mobile travel tools, particularly those designed for making travel reservations, according to a eMarketer report, "The Mobile Traveler: How Smartphones Are Changing the Customer Journey."
Already, smartphones have had a strong impact on the travel industry, and increasing mobile device adoption will continue to influence the way consumers make travel plans. In 2012, roughly 36 million Americans will use a smartphone to research travel. eMarketer estimates that number will double by 2016. Over the same time period, eMarketer forecasts that the number of smartphone-using travel bookers will jump from 15.8 million to 36.3 million.
US smartphone travel researchers, 2010-2016:
- 2010:17.2 million (16.0% of online travel researchers)
- 2011: 27.1 million (23.7%)
- 2012: 36.4 million (30.4%)
- 2013: 45.0 million (36.4%)
- 2014: 53.6 million (42.1%)
- 2015: 62.8 million (47.9%)
- 2016: 72.6 million (53.9%)
US smartphone travel bookers, 2010-2016:
- 2010: 8.0 million (9.2% of online travel bookers)
- 2011: 11.9 million (12.6%)
- 2012: 15.8 million (16.1%)
- 2013: 20.0 million (19.6%)
- 2014: 25.0 million (23.8%)
- 2015: 30.2 million (27.9%)
- 2016: 36.3 million (32.5%)
(eMarketer, August 2012)
The US online travel industry is set to reach $162 billion in 2012, up some 74% since 2007, according to Infographics compiled by funsherpa. 87% of travellers used the internet for a bulk of their travel planning.
Top online activities for US travellers:
- 62% researched an upcoming trip
- 45% sourced initial trip idea
- 43% read reviews from other travellers
- 31% watched travel video
- 24% read travel related blog
- 16% posted travel reviews
- 11% uploaded video related to past travel
- 11% commented on travel reviews
- 9% commented on travel related video
- 7% participated in travel related blog.
Funsherpa Infographics also illustrate social media influence on US travellers, with more than half (52%) of travellers having changed their plans after researching their trip on social media sites, and 50% of travel companies saying that direct bookings have been generated from social media.
Social media influence on US travellers:
- 70% update their Facebook status while on vacation
- 52% of travellers have changed their original travel plans
- 50% of travel companies surveyed agreed that direct bookings were generated from social media
- 46% check in to a location (eg Facebook and Foursquare) while on vacation
- 33% changed their hotel
- 10% switched resorts
- 10% changed agent/operator/website
- 7% holidayed in a different country
- 5% switched airlines.
Most popular post vacation activities:
- 76% post vacation photos to a social network
- 55% ‘liked' Facebook pages specific to a vacation
- 46% of travellers post hotel reviews
- 40% post activity/attraction reviews
- 40% post restaurant reviews.
Usage of mobile phones for travel info:
- 85% of leisure travellers use their smartphone while travelling
- 30% have used mobile apps to find hotel deals
- 29% of travellers have used mobile apps to find flight deals
- 15% have downloaded mobile apps specific to upcoming vacations.
(Mediabistro.com, July 2012)
Online corporate travel bookings in the US have grown significantly, and are expected to increase through 2013, when 56% of all corporate travel dollars will be spent online, according to PhoCusWright's U.S. Corporate Travel Report: Market Size and Technology Trends report.
A combination of recessionary pressures, advances in technology and changes in US business traveler behaviour has driven strong growth in the online corporate travel marketplace. The report indicates that a new wave of companies either turned to online booking tools, or else accelerated their online adoption efforts during the recession.
In 2009, the online channel accounted for half of all corporate travel bookings. But the recession brought greater emphasis on cost-cutting, and more companies began to insist that employees book their air, car and hotel online to save money. In addition, mobile and tablet apps have quickly gained popularity, as companies seek to accommodate their travelers' preferred modes of behavior. (PhoCusWright, June 2012)
Nearly three fourths of US travellers who use search engines to plan travel look for hotel rooms, while just 58% search for airline tickets, according to PhoCusWright's Reading Between the Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines. (PhoCusWright, June 2012)
51% of US smartphone owners accessed travel content on their devices during the three month period ending February 2012, according to results from a US study on mobile travel activities based on data from comScore Travel Advisor report.
Four in every five mobile travellers access both air and hotel content. The most popular air travel-related mobile activity was checking airfare prices, in which 26% of all smartphone users engaged. Smartphone users were nearly as likely to look up an airline phone number, flight schedules, and check a flight's status, each of which was conducted by 25% of the audience.
While many of the most popular behaviours were consumers seeking information, they also engaged in transactional behavior. Nearly 1 in every 5 smartphone owners using their device to book air travel or hotel reservations with 21% of smartphone consumers checking in for a flight on their device, while 18% booking a flight on their smartphone and 10% cancelling a flight.
Top mobile air activities while planning a trip or travelling during previous three months to February 2012 (total US Smartphone subscribers ages 18+):
1. Checked airfare prices: 26%
2. Looked up a phone number (i.e. airline): 25%
3. Looked at flights schedules: 25%
4. Checked a flight status (arrival/delays): 25%
5. Looked up airport information: 24%
6. Checked in for a flight: 21%
7. Received price alerts for flights: 19%
8. Booked a flight: 18%
9. Received SMS alerts for a flight status: 17%
10. Tracked the status of a checked bag: 13%
11. Cancelled a flight: 10%
Among hotel-related mobile activities, looking up hotel address/directions was the most popular (conducted by 29% of smartphone owners), followed by researching attractions or things to do near hotel (23%). Reading hotel reviews and comparing hotel prices and availability were performed by more than 1 in 5 smartphone owners in the past three months, while 18% used their device to book a hotel room.
Top mobile hotel activities while planning a trip or travelling during previous three months to February 2012 (total US Smartphone subscribers ages 18+):
1. Looked up hotel address/directions: 29%
2. Looked up/ researched attractions/ things to do at my destination/near my hotel: 23%
3. Looked up/researched places to eat at my destination/near my hotel : 22%
4. Read a hotel review: 22%
5. Compared hotel prices & availability: 21%
6. Booked a hotel room: 18%
7. Received price alerts for hotels: 18%
8. Looked up/researched ground transportation at my destination/near my hotel: 17%
9. Cancelled a hotel reservation: 10%
Compared to the average smartphone owner the mobile traveller was more likely to be younger and male, a fairly typical profile for early technology adopters. 62% of smartphone owners that accessed travel information were male, compared to 52% of the entire smartphone audience, while 78% of smartphone travellers were between the ages of 18-44, compared to 63% of the total smartphone audience. Mobile travellers tended to have similar income levels compared to the average smartphone owner with approximately half of each audiences residing in households earning at least $75,000 annually.
Demographic profile of Smartphone travel user, February 2012 (total US Smartphone subscribers ages 18+):
- Male: 62% of mobile travel Smartphone audience / 52% of total Smartphone Audience
- Female: 38% / 48%
- 18-24: 21% / 17%
- 25-34: 33% / 25%
- 35-44: 24% / 21%
- 45-54: 11% / 16%
- 55-64: 8% / 9%
- 65+: 4% / 6%
- <$25k: 7% / 11%
- $25k to <$50k: 23% / 20%
- $50k to <$75k: 22% / 19%
- $75k to <$100k: 23% / 16%
- $100k+: 26% / 34%
(comScore, April 2012)
Total spending on online travel is expected to reach nearly $120 billion this year in the US, representing a healthy 11% growth for the industry, according to eMarketer. But compared to overall online retail sales, online growth for travel is slow, indicating maturity in the market.
The US mobile travel market is growing more quickly. eMarketer estimates 16 million Americans will book travel via mobile this year, up from just over 12 million in 2011. By 2016, the number of mobile users booking travel on their devices is expected to more than double to 36.7 million. And significantly more mobile users will research, but not necessarily purchase, travel on their phones throughout the forecast period: 37.8 million this year, rising to 74.3 million by 2016.
US mobile travel bookers by device, 2011-2016:
- 2011: 12.1 million (of which 11.9 million are smartphone and 0.2 million are feature phone)
- 2012: 16.0 million (15.8 million / 0.2 million)
- 2013: 20.2 million (20.0 million / 0.2 million)
- 2014: 25.3 million (25.0 million / 0.3 million)
- 2015: 30.6 million (30.2 million / 0.4 million)
- 2016: 36.7 million (36.3 million / 0.4 million)
Over the same period, total online sales of leisure and unmanaged business travel will rise from $119.2 million to $151.9 million.
US online travel sales, 2010-2016:
- 2010: $99.0 billion (+10.0%)
- 2011: $107.4 billion (+8.5%)
- 2012: $119.2 billion (+11.0%)
- 2013: $128.8 billion (+8.0%)
- 2014: $137.1 billion (+6.5%)
- 2015: $144.7 billion (+5.5%)
- 2016: $151.9 billion (+5.0%)
eMarketer expects nearly 120 million US adult internet users to research travel online this year, and 98.3 million to book travel via the web-a solid majority of internet users. By 2012, these numbers will rise to 134.7 million and 111.5 million, respectively.
eMarketer forms its estimates of online and mobile travel research, booking and sales based on the analysis of data from benchmark source PhoCusWright, estimates from other research firms, historical trends, reported and estimated revenues from major online retailers, consumer online buying trends, macro-level economic conditions and internet and mobile adoption trends. (eMarketer, April 2012)
Although US online leisure/unmanaged business travel market growth continues to outpace the total travel market, the days of lightning-fast online growth are gone for good, according to PhoCusWright.
The share of US travel booked online (i.e., online leisure/unmanaged business travel as a share of the total market) will increase to 40% by 2013, growing just one percentage point over five years. Yet despite the slowing overall growth trend, online penetration continues to vary significantly by segment.
Only two segments were expected to book half or more of their sales online in 2011: air (50%) and rail (54%). At the other end of the spectrum, online bookings were projected to comprise only 11% of cruise and 5% of traditional vacation packages. Both segments rely heavily on traditional travel agencies for distribution.
With the US online market at a stage of maturity, in the short term, rail and hotel and lodging are the only segments expected to gain significant share in online penetration. By 2013, 56% of Amtrak's tickets will be booked on Amtrak.com, and one-third of hotel and lodging will be booked online, up from 29% in 2009. (PhoCusWright FYI, January 2012)
60% of American consumers say they factor other travellers' online reviews into their plans when booking a vacation, according to the third annual Access America Vacation Confidence Index released by Mondial Assistance USA.
With the growing popularity and influence of social media and online review sites, it isn't surprising that more and more consumers are using these sites as resources when booking their travel, according to Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Mondial Assistance. In these tough economic times, consumers want assurance that if they are going to spend on travel, they are selecting the best experiences, and reviews from peers and colleagues act as a security blanket for uncertain travellers.
Other findings include:
- Travellers under 35 are most likely to say that online travel reviews influence their travel plans (74%) while those 55 and over are least likely to be influenced by reviews (44%).
- Nearly 79% of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more factor other travellers' reviews into their own plans, while less than half of those with an income of under $25,000 do so (46%).
- Nearly two thirds of respondents (63%) find other travellers' reviews to be trustworthy, while 29% are less trusting.
- Travellers under 35 are more likely than those who are older to trust the travel reviews they read (70% vs. 54%).
- Over three quarters of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more (77%) find travel reviews to be trustworthy compared to just half of those with an income of under $25,000 (50%).
- Social Networking Sites are most popular for sharing: among travellers who share reviews of their travel experiences online (24% of respondents), social networking sites such as Facebook are most popular. Nearly one in five (18%) say that they share their travel experiences on social networks, more than double the proportion of those who post on travel review sites (8%).
- Young Adults, Affluent are more likely to share online: Adults under 35 are more likely than those who are 35+ to share their travel experiences online (35% vs. 20%), particularly on social media sites (29% vs. 6%). More affluent adults are also more likely to share about their travels. More than a third of those with a household income of $75,000 or more (36%) share their travel reviews online, compared to 15% of those with a household income of less than $25,000, and they are twice as likely to use social networks to do so (24% vs. 12%).
The Access America Vacation Confidence Index is based on a telephone survey conducted by Ipsos November 2-7, 2011 of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 randomly-selected adults aged 18 and over residing in the U.S. (Travel Industry Wire, December 2011)
Smartphones are empowering a segment of hotel customers often overlooked by the industry: last-minute buyers who aren't travelling. Hoping to draw impulsive buyers addicted to daily coupon alerts, hotels and online travel agencies are introducing a flurry of new specials and features targeting those who book a room locally on the day of the stay.
They include couples celebrating anniversaries; long-distance commuters working late; people without electricity; travellers whose flights are cancelled; and suburban deal seekers who can't resist a 30% discount at a fancy downtown hotel. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, December 2011)
There will be 117.6 million online travel researchers (61% of internet users) and 98.3 million online travel bookers (51% of internet users) in the US by 2012, according to estimates by eMarketer.
These consumers are going online for information at more points in the travel process - before, during and after a trip. The sheer number of online travel researchers and bookers elevates the importance of online reputation.
US online travel researchers and bookers, 2009-2012:
- 2009: 102.0 million researchers (58% of internet users) / 82.6 million bookers (47% of internet users)
- 2010: 107.2 million (59%) / 87.2 million (48%)
- 2011: 114.5 million (61%) / 93.9 million (50%)
- 2012: 117.6 million (61%) / 98.3 million (51%)
(eMarketer, November 2011)
Today's US travel consumers make use of a growing variety of web resources to help them research and book travel. This list has evolved beyond branded promotional material to include ratings, reviews, videos, photos and social media commentary from travel peers. More than ever before, this positive and negative online information has the ability to make or break purchase decisions.
A brand's website is one of its most visible owned assets and can serve as a central hub for content delivered through multiple channels to support reputation management. February 2011 research by Ypartnership and the Harrison Group illustrated the importance of brand sites to travellers. It found 46% of respondents in a survey of active travellers used branded supplier sites when booking travel.
Sources typically used by US active travellers when booking travel, February 2011:
- Online travel agency: 62%
- Branded supplier site: 46%
- Meta search site: 14%
- Traditional travel agent: 9%
- Collective buying site: 5%
- Private sale site: 5%
Branded sites may be among the easiest for travel firms to control, but they are just one among many sources for consumers to research and book travel. Brands must also focus on paid and earned media, in addition to their owned assets, to create and implement an overall online reputation management strategy. (eMarketer, November 2011)
The US online travel market is maturing, according to PhoCusWright's "U.S. Online Travel Overview, Eleventh Edition" report. The percentage of travel in the US booked online currently stands around 39% and will modestly inch upwards to just 40% in 2013, according to PhoCusWright. After years of unabated growth, online sales are practically in sidestep with the total market, growing only slightly faster on the strength of continued share shift from offline to online channels.
The PhoCusWright study found that suppliers in 2011 have secured a 62% share of the leisure/unmanaged online travel market compared with a 38% hold by the OTAs. Most of the shift is due to the strength of airline websites, which will represent 72% of all online air bookings by 2012, according to PhoCusWright.
While leisure travel demand in the US is relatively soft, the comeback of managed and unmanaged business travel in the last two years catapulted supplier websites, as well as traditional travel agencies and travel management companies, ahead of OTAs in 2011, according to PhoCusWright, although the business travel advantage may evaporate in 2012. (tnooz, November 2011)
After its only decline on record in 2009, the US online leisure/unmanaged business travel market will grow 10% in 2011 to reach $109 billion, according to PhoCusWright's U.S. Online Travel Overview Eleventh Edition report. With a struggling US economy, online travel growth will slow to single-digit gains over the next two years, trailed by the overall travel market. (PhoCusWright FYI, November 2011)
US travellers who plan and book trips online are more likely to be early adopters of new technology, more likely to own a smartphone and take about three leisure trips a year, according to PhoCusWright's Traveler Technology Survey 2011, which surveyed 1,948 online travelers.
The appetite for new technology is often coupled with a strong appetite for travel, according to Carroll Rheem, director of research for PhoCusWright, which tracks travel trends.
According to the survey results, 47% of US online travellers are on the cutting edge or are early adopters of new technologies. Of those early adopters, 71% own a smartphone and take an average of 3.3 leisure trips a year, spending an average of $3,712 annually.
US online travellers by level of technology adoption:
- Late adopters / resisters: 30% of total online travellers / 27% of smartphones
- Mainstream users: 23% / 43%
- Cutting edge / early adopters: 47% / 71%
Of the 1,125 online travellers who access the internet via a smartphone, 79% view maps or get directions, 62% research local activities such as restaurants or shows, 43% research travel products such as hotel rooms or flights and 42% reference existing travel information, such as itineraries.
While the travellers surveyed were comfortable researching information on a smartphone, however, many were more inclined to switch over to a computer to enter credit card information.
When it comes to online social networks, 79% of travellers said they participated in at least one, up from 70% in 2010. (HOTELMARKTING.COM, November 2011)
Generation X (the first generation to grow up with PCs) is as comfortable with digital as with traditional media, according to an eMarketer report "Gen X: Demographic Profile and Marketing Approaches".
Gen X constitutes the largest online video audience. eMarketer forecasts that 74.2.% of Gen X internet users (or 43.3 million) will watch online video at least monthly in 2011, and that percentage is expected to grow to 80% (48.5 million) by 2015.
eMarketer estimates that 88% of the segment are web users in 2011, and that number is expected to increase to 90.9% by 2015. They are slightly more likely than the general population to visit online retail sites and significantly more likely to visit mobile retail sites, according to comScore.
Top product categories purchased online by Gen Xers in fall 2010 included apparel, airline tickets, books and hotel reservations, according to a survey by GfK MRI.
Top ten product categories purchased online by US Gen X consumers, Fall 2010:
1. Clothing/apparel: 21.9% of respondents
2. Airline tickets: 19.9%
3. Books: 18.2%
4. Hotel reservations: 16.1%
5. Banking services: 14.3%
6. Shoes/footwear: 11.2%
7. Toys/games: 9.4%
8. Mobile phones/accessories: 9.4%
9. Tickets - movies: 7.8%
10. Computer software / accessories: 7.7%
(eMarketer, August 2011)
The number of leisure travellers who enjoyed using the Web to plan and book their vacations dropped from 53% in 2007 to 47% in 2010, according to a study by Forrester Research. And in an American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) survey, 44% of agents said that they had more clients in 2010 than they had had the previous year, with the strongest rebound in rail and hotel reservations.
John Clifford, president of the luxury travel consultancy InternationalTravelManagement.com. illustrate these statistics by indicating that not only are customers confused and frustrated by new airline fees and events, but they are bombarded by social media, and everyone is trying to tell you where you should stay, where you should eat, what you should do. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2011)
The business travel market has been improving, but measuring it can be a challenge. Historically, managed business travel has constituted about 40% of all travel sales, but the lines between managed business, unmanaged business and leisure can be difficult to draw. PhoCusWright estimated that managed corporate travel grew 15% in 2010 and accounted for 36% of the total $255 billion travel market. In 2011, the firm estimates this percentage will be slightly higher.
US total trade sales and managed corporate travel share, 2008-2010:
- 2008: US$274 billion total travel sales / 38% of managed corporate travel share
- 2009: US$233 billion / 33%
- 2010: US$255 billion / 36%
As travellers demand to use the same online travel tools for business as they use in their personal life, corporate travel professionals are seeing promise in social media. A May 2010 AirPlus International study found that 52.2% of European and North American travel management professionals said social media sites had the potential to increase traveller satisfaction through real time knowledge sharing. And 41.8% said social media could help travel managers understand what is important to travellers.
Mobile is also revolutionizing the travel industry and has significant potential to improve many facets of the travel experience. (eMarketer, May 2011)
US online sales of leisure and unmanaged business travel will increase another 8.5% in 2011 to $107.4 billion, up from $99 billion in 2010, according to estimates by eMarketer.
US online travel sales, 2009-2015:
- 2009: $90.0 billion (-5.3% change)
- 2010: $99.0 billion (+10.0%)
- 2011: $107.4 billion (+8.5%)
- 2012: $119.2 billion (+11.0%)
- 2013: $128.8 billion (+8.0%)
- 2014: $137.1 billion (+6.5%)
- 2015: $144.7 billion (+5.5%)
eMarketer benchmarks its US online travel sales projections against figures from PhoCusWright, for which the last full year measured was 2009, and bases its forecast on a meta-analysis of data from several research firms, as well as overall travel industry trends.
The number of US consumers researching and booking travel online is still growing. More than 114 million people will research travel online this year, and 93.9 million will book it. But the percentage of US internet users doing so has stabilized. The online travel market is now mature, and only modest growth in the percentage of all trips booked online is expected.
US online travel researchers and bookers, 2009-2012:
- 2009: 102.0 million researchers (58% of internet users) / 82.6 million (47% of internet users)
- 2010: 107.2 million (59%) / 87.2 million (48%)
- 2011: 114.5 million (61%) / 93.9 million (50%)
- 2012: 117.6 million (61%0 / 98.3 million (51%)
Growth in spending is coming largely from a rise in airfares, hotel rates and ancillary fees, which increase the aggregate dollar amount of online bookings.
In 2011, eMarketer estimates, the average amount each online travel booker will spend is $1,145. That will go up to $1,213 next year.
Mobile travel research and booking Mobile travel research and booking is also on the rise. eMarketer expects this less-mature channel to attract 24.6 million travel researchers and 11.8 million bookers this year. (eMarketer, April 2011)
Non-transactional sites are a necessary stop for many online travel shoppers, influencing not only what travellers buy, but also where they buy it, according to PhoCusWright's Online Traffic and Conversion Report, Second Edition. Travellers who visit planning and reviews, meta-search or other types of non-transactional websites have a higher conversion rate than other visitors - but PhoCusWright found that the trend only applies for suppliers.
Air shoppers who visit both a non-transactional site and an airline supplier site convert at a much higher rate than other visitors. For example, airline website shoppers who also visit meta-search engines convert at 16%, while others convert at less than 10%. Those who visit non-transactional websites do not show any notable difference in conversion among OTA air shoppers.
The difference in conversion rates is less dramatic with hotel products, yet the trend still holds. Supplier websites still have higher conversion rates among non-transactional site visitors whereas OTAs generally do not. In fact, non-transactional site visitors often convert at a lower level on OTAs than other visitors.
The benefit of advertising on non-transactional websites may be stronger for suppliers than for OTAs, but value still exists for OTAs due to the substantial audience visiting these informational categories. Nearly a quarter of air shoppers interact with a lead generator, while more than a quarter of hotel shoppers visit a planning and reviews site. (PhoCusWright FYI, March 2011)
Nearly 25 million US mobile users will research travel information on their mobile devices before making a trip in 2011, according to an eMarketer report entitled "Mobile Travel Takes Off: Emerging Trends and Best Practices for Marketers". Nearly 12 million will use the mobile channel to book their plans. The vast majority of both groups will be made up of smartphone users.
US mobile travel researchers, by device, 2010-2012:
- 2010: 19.7 million (of which 16.6 million smartphone users and 3.1 million non-smartphone users)
- 2011: 24.6 million (21.3 million / 3.3 million)
- 2012: 29.7 million (26.2 million / 3.5 million)
US mobile travel bookers, by device, 2010-2012:
- 2010: 8.7 million (of which 7.7 million smartphone users and 1.0 million non-smartphone users)
- 2011: 11.8 million (10.7 million / 1.1 million)
- 2012: 15.1 million (13.9 million / 1.2 million)
By 2012, 34% of smartphone users and 31% of mobile internet users in the US will research travel via mobile. At the same time, 18% of smartphone users and 16% of mobile internet users will book travel the same way.
US mobile travel researchers, 2010-2012 (% of smartphone users, mobile internet users and mobile phone users):
- 2010: 30% of smartphone users / 28% of mobile internet users / 10% of mobile phone users
- 2011: 32% / 30% / 12%
- 2012: 34% / 31% / 14%
(eMarketer, March 2011)
Leisure travellers are using their mobile devices during trips to explore, navigate and book travel - and they are hungry to do even more, according to PhoCusWright's study of the travel activities marketplace, When They Get There (and Why They Go): Activities, Attractions, Events and Tours. While many travelers are already completing a range of travel-related tasks via mobile, future intent predicts a major shift in the way travellers make decisions while in destination.
Four out of five active travellers (i.e., travelers who have purchased or participated in an activity, attraction, event or tour while traveling in the past year) report traveling with mobile phones. Among those who do, the most common functions used are capturing photos/videos, checking email, viewing maps, and finding attractions/activities on maps.
Over 40% of active travellers used their mobile devices to research activities during their last trip, and nearly 40% reported reserving/purchasing activities. These already significant adoption rates are dwarfed by future intent. Nearly two thirds of active travelers with mobile phones indicate that they are likely to use them to research and purchase activities in the future. One third are likely to check in to a location-enabled social network.
This dramatic change in the way travellers access information during their trips creates fresh opportunities to monetize travel activities, opening the door to providing timely, personalized activities content and last-minute bookings. (PhoCusWright FYI, March 2011)
Customer satisfaction with online travel in the US has jumped 1.3% to a new all-time high, according to The American Customer Satisfaction Index's (ACSI) annual E-commerce Report.
The report indicates that if the sustainability of online travel aggregator business was ever in question, we now can see that it is an industry that is here to stay. From 2005 to 2008, the industry was on a declining trend, but now, they have reversed that trend, which is remarkable considering the travel industry is one where lots of variables are out of the companies' control.
Expedia is joined at the top of the industry by the "all others" category with a score of 79. Travelocity, which placed last in the industry in 2010, increases its score one percent to 77, beating Orbitz (-1% to 75) and Priceline (-4% to 73). With a three point drop, Priceline saw the largest decline in the industry, according to the report. Last year, Priceline jumped from a 72 to a 76, which was the largest gain in the group and put them just below the industry aggregate score of 77.
The report said that Priceline's aggressive pricing has resulted in high revenues over the past year, but their drop in score tells us that the future is not as bright. Their pricing approach may not be as valuable to consumers as the economy stabilizes and customers turn back to sites to which they are more loyal. The report found that Priceline trails other sites when it comes to brand familiarity.
The airline industry, which is in some turmoil with American Airlines pulling its flights from Orbitz and Expedia to avoid fees there, is scoring lower than ever. It had a 66 rating, which ASI says "is one of the lowest scoring industries" in the survey. (Travelmole, February 2011)
In 2010, offline travel distribution will grow faster than online for the first time since the rise of online travel, according to PhoCusWright's "US Online Travel Overview Tenth Edition" report.
Another perhaps surprising finding is that corporate travel led the US travel market's 2009 plummet and is now fuelling its recovery, in a dramatic swing that is temporarily disrupting the overall market's shift to online channels, says the company. PhoCusWright also projects a restrained recovery through 2011, varying by travel segment and distribution channel.
The US online leisure/unmanaged business travel market will grow by 8% in 2010 while the traditional travel agency/travel management company (TMC) channel, powered by the business travel rebound, will post a 15% gain.
Corporate travel's wild ride over the past two years has caused an unusual shift in trend, with online channels growing more slowly than the total US travel market for the first time, according to Douglas Quinby, PhoCusWright senior director of research. The phenomenon reflects the peculiar dynamics of this recession, but the reversal will be short lived. In 2011, the long-term arc of continued shift from offline to online channels will resume.
Following an historic 15% annual decline in 2009, the US travel market in 2010 will regain over half of what it lost, jumping 10% to surpass US$255 billion. Yet the recovery will be uneven and slow, with 2010 travel sales falling short of 2006 levels. The total market will continue to rise annually over the next two years, finally reaching record highs again in 2012, according to the report.
Online leisure and unmanaged business travel fared better than the overall travel market in 2009, falling just 5%, as travellers sought bargains online. Led by online travel agencies, 2010 gains will push online travel ahead of record 2008 levels. Yet online leisure/unmanaged business penetration of the total travel market will be stagnant at 38% in 2010. (Travelmole, November 2010)
According to PhoCusWright's Consumer Travel Report Second Edition, the top reason U.S. travelers give for booking offline is that they were seeking personal service. On the other hand, security concerns and technology issues, once a significant deterrent of online bookings, are no longer a major factor. Just 7% of offline bookers say they do not want to submit credit card information online, and roughly the same percantage do not feel the information they see online is accurate. Only 9% of those who book online cite technical issues or frustration with the Internet as the reason.
While discomfort with technology and the internet is no longer the main driver of offline bookings, a number of other perceptions appear to be preventing some transactions from moving to the online channel. The number two and three reasons for booking offline relate to perceptions-or perhaps, misperceptions-about differences between online and offline booking. Specifically, 21% of travelers who book offline feel they can get a better deal when they call or visit a travel agent or supplier. In addition, 16% believe they would get better customer service (when booking offline) if something goes wrong.
Clearly, an opportunity exists for any travel company that wants to shift transactions from their call center to their website. The challenge is to dispel the notion (which may or may not be accurate) that there are significant differences in pricing and/or customer service between online and offline channels. By communicating a clear and consistent pricing policy, and establishing messaging that instills greater confidence in customer service, travel companies may convince resistant consumers to shift their bookings online. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2010)
While too-high prices were the main driver to booking abandonment, a litany of site-related complaints followed, including not wanting to register, slow loading times, and general frustration or confusion, according to a January 2010 survey of US online travel bookers by PhoCusWright.
Reasons that US online travel bookers do not complete online transactions, January 2010 (% of respondents):
- Final product price and/or fees were higher than I was willing to pay: 43%
- I did not want to register with the Website: 11%
- Not enough inventory (What I wanted to purchase was not available): 11%
- Website was too slow/took too long: 11%
- Website was asking for too much information: 9%
- Website was frustrating/confusing to use: 9%
- Checkout process was too long or confusing: 6%
- I was unwilling/unable to give my credit card information online: 6%
- Website crashed/Webpage froze/received error page: 5%
- Other 3%
- Have never abandoned site from which intended to make purchase: 30%
These problems can also prevent travel bookers from returning in future. More than a third of all travellers told PhoCusWright that site problems would make them less likely to shop again. Business travellers, who are more likely than leisure travellers to book a trip on any given travel site visit, were especially harsh in their condemnation. They were more likely than average to say they would immediately turn to a competing travel site (23%) and tell friends, family and co-workers about their bad experience (14%).
Website performance monitoring firm Gomez found in December 2009 that nearly a fifth of US online buyers had experienced slow load times on travel sites, and 11% had had problems completing transactions. A majority of respondents would give up after just one or two bad experiences on a site.
The "Hospitality & Tourism Industry Report, Q4 2009" from customer satisfaction measurement firm iPerceptions also indicated that after price considerations, convenient, hassle-free Websites with high measures of responsiveness led to the most completed bookings. (eMarketer, May 2010)
Usage of the internet for researching, discussing and booking leisure and unmanaged business travel in the US has shown surprising resilience during the global recession, terrorism scares, flu-pandemic fears and continued economic uncertainty. Though sales declined 6.7% in 2009, US online leisure and unmanaged business travel sales growth will begin to accelerate in 2010, peaking at 7% in 2012, when sales will hit $105.4 billion, according to eMarketer.
eMarkter believes that online will grow to make up an even greater percentage of the total travel market in the post-recessionary environment.
US online leisure/unmanaged business travel sales, 2008-2014:
- 2008: $94.7 billion (+7.1%)
- 2009: $88.4 billion (-6.7%)
- 2010: $92.5 billion (+4.6%)
- 2011: $98.5 billion (+6.5%)
- 2012: $105.4 billion (+7.0%)
- 2013: $112.2 billion (+6.5%)
- 2014: $119.0 billion (+6.0%)
Amid the sales recovery, six key trends will be critical to online travel companies seeking to break away from the increasingly crowded yet fragmented pack:
1. Value takes centre stage: Amid the economic rubble, travellers have adopted a back-to-basics mentality, seeking quality at the right price.
2. Social media gives rise to new ways of sharing: Online reviews and user-generated content are being combined with social networking, increasing their influence on travel-buying decisions.
3. Mobile takes travel on the go: A growing number of travellers now use mobile devices to plan and book trips and access location-specific content.
4. Personalized micro-niche travel takes off: Growing dissatisfaction with one-size-fits-all travel is driving demand for customized offerings.
5. Online travel spans new horizons: Growth in online booking is shifting overseas, while US travellers who book online are looking for more international options.
6. Sustainable is becoming attainable: Suppliers who deploy green practices are enjoying favoured status among acutely aware consumers.
(eMarketer, April 2010)
Hotel internet bookings increased by 6.6% in 2009 compared to 2008 and now account for 54% of all bookings, according to TRAVELCLICK's eTRAK report. This represents $2 billion in hotel revenue, according to PhoCusWright. This is the third year of consecutive growth in the online channel since eTRAK reporting began in 2006.
Driving the proliferation of Web bookings are such new and evolving online channels as mobile applications, social media, and behavioral networks. The mobile channel generated nearly $80 million in revenue in 2008 and 2009, according to PhoCusWright. This number is significantly higher than the revenue from booking air travel (around $60 million) or rental cars (around $20 million) through the mobile channel.
Social networking sites have emerged with similar speed. According to Gartner, networking will be the most popular online activity by 2012, overtaking shopping and surpassing communication and entertainment.
Alongside these emerging technologies, the Global Distribution System (GDS) continues to be important for many buyers and contributes significantly to hotel distribution revenue - about 24% in 2009, according to eTRAK. Also, GDS hotel promotions, appearing when agents search the air, car, and hotel availability screens within their GDS, still have an influence on bookings. Research has found that the more useful, accurate, and visually engaging the information provided by hotels in the GDS environment, the more agents will rely on the system to book travel for their clients. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2010)
US travel industry bookings are expected to total US$291 billion in 2010 while online transactions will reach US$90 billion, according to PhoCusWright. Mobile bookings are to reach US$160 million during the same period, according to PhoCusWright's Mobile: The Next Platform for Travel report.
While mobile booking is still in its infancy, there is vast growth potential for mobile applications that drive bookings and revenue. Travel companies that build effective mobile strategies to target early adopters will be in prime position to lead the coming mobile revolution in travel. These early adopters tend to be young, and, most importantly, frequent travellers. (PhoCusWright FYI - 05/02/2010, February 2010)
The 2009 to 2014 outlook for US online leisure and unmanaged business travel sales is rather mixed, according to a report by Forrester Research entitled "US Online Leisure Travel Forecast, 2009 to 2014: The Plateau Is In Sight".
The era of double-digit growth among US online leisure travel bookers and sales is fading. Between 2009 and 2014, Forrester expects that online sales will remain below those estimated in their 2008 forecast. The number of US leisure travel bookers will grow by just 3.5% during the next five years, while online leisure and unmanaged travel sales will grow 7%, according to Forrester Research. (Forrester Research, January 2010)
Relatively low percentages of US Web users ages 18 and older went online to investigate travel-related subjects in 2009 (in comparison to level in some European countries), according to an Ad-ology Research. Airfares were the most popular travel-related topic, with 34% of respondents saying they had recently checked out flight costs online. But less than 31% of internet users said they had searched for information on rates and availability at hotels and motels.
US internet users who have used the internet to research travel-related topics, 2009 (% of respondents):
- Airfare: 34.0%
- Hotel/motel rates and availability: 30.8%
- Car rental: 14.3%
- Cruises: 10.3%
- Adventure vacation: 10/0%
- Train travel: 6.3%
- Casino vacation: 4.4%
- Guided tour: 3.8%
- Bus tour: 2.8%
- Out-of-town sporting events: 2.8%
- Travel agent/agency: 2.6%
- Golf vacation: 1.7%
- Other 1.2%
- None: 52.9%
(eMarketer, January 2010)
Travel Industry Online Developments
Google's Hotel Finder and Flight Search have fundamentally altered what travel consumers see above the fold on search engine results pages (SERPs). Travel researchers who search potential flight destinations or hotel accommodations will no longer see 10 blue links immediately below the top-of-page paid search ads. Consumers instead see flight times or hotel website links with rudimentary pricing information, powered by Google, immediately underneath sponsored ads.
Google Maps will see some of the most noticeable results of Google's travel-related acquisitions. And of all the various types of pages and websites used by travelers, Google Maps is the most heavily trafficked, particularly on mobile. Search results in a mobile browser slant even more significantly to Google's metasearch products than do desktop search results, due to mobile's small screen size.
Top 10 travel websites among US internet users, ranked by market share of visits, December 2012:
1. Google Maps: 16.32%
2. MapQuest: 8.00%
3. Expedia: 2.75%
4. Southwest Airlines: 2.33%
5. TripAdvisor: 2.27%
6. Priceline.com: 1.99%
7. Delta Air Lines: 1.53%
8. CheapOair: 1.36%
9. Travelocity: 1.35%
10. Orbitz: 1.23%
Top 10 travel-related mobile websites visited by US smartphone owners, ranked by unique visitors, June 2012 :
1. Google Maps: 17.4 million
2. TripAdvisor: 4.2 million
3. MapQuest: 3.8 million
4. Yahoo! Local: 2.7 million
5. Southwest Airlines: 2.0 million
6. Priceline: 1.6 million
7. Expedia: 1.6 million
8. Marriott: 1.5 million
9. United Airlines: 1.4 million
10. Hotels.com: 1.4 million
The biggest and most legitimate concern among travel marketers is that Google will prioritize its original travel content results. (eMarketer, January 2013)
US travel advertisers will dedicate $4.7 billion to digital in 2016, nearly double the $2.4 billion they spent in 2011, according to eMarketer's digital ad spending forecast, which encompasses both online and mobile advertising.
This growth is underpinned by the natural influx of new advertisers coming to the digital marketplace and increasing their spend over time, as well as established digital advertisers focusing on emerging channels. Advertiser trends, newer online ad formats and mobile advertising in general are collectively driving rapid growth through 2014. By 2015, year-over-year growth for digital travel advertising will continue, but it will begin to show signs of maturation, dipping into the high single-digit percentages.
US travel industry digital ad spending, 2010-2016:
- 2010: $1.84 billion (7.0% of digital ad spending)
- 2011: $2.40 billion (7.5%)
- 2012: $2.98 billion (8.0%)
- 2013: $3.48 billion (8.2%)
- 2014: $4.06 billion (8.5%)
- 2015: $4.42 billion (8.5%)
- 2016: $4.70 billion (8.5%)
To put these numbers in context, travel is increasing digital ad spending faster than almost all other US industries. During eMarketer's forecast period, travel will steadily gain market share, rising from 7% of all US digital advertising in 2010 to 8.5% by 2014, when it will level off as the market shows its first signs of maturity. Travel's 8.5% share puts it squarely in the middle of US digital ad spending by industry, but aside from media, whose share of all digital advertising will increase 1.9 percentage points during the forecast period, travel leads all other industries in market share growth.
Travel's 14.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2010 and 2016 also reflects the industry's dedication to digital. According to eMarketer's estimates, travel will have the third-highest CAGR of all US industries during the forecast period.
Reading between the lines, travel is spending considerably more than the two industries it trails in CAGR, as both media and entertainment's growth rates are reflective of a smaller spending base.
Overall, travel's ad and marketing executives were right in line with their counterparts from other US industries, according to Advertiser Perceptions' "Advertiser Optimism Index: AIR Wave 17 Spring 2012," sharing similar optimism for spending across all digital channels. Optimism in this case was measured by the difference in the percentage of respondents increasing and decreasing ad budgets in these areas.
The one outlier in ad spending for travel, notably, was its optimism index for magazine advertising. Travel advertisers were just barely on the optimistic side, with 9% more advertisers planning to increase spend on magazines compared to those who planned to decrease spend. However, all of travel's counterparts were squarely pessimistic about magazine advertising. (eMarketer, October 2012)
A significant majority of marketers worldwide (67%) rated email the most successful digital marketing tactic, according to May 2012 data from the CMO Council. June 2012 findings from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) provided further evidence of success, showing improvement in US email open rates and clickthrough rates (CTR) for both in-house and prospect-intended emails in 2012, as compared to 2010.
For house lists, which the DMA defines as an email list of both past and present customers generated from a company's own database, the average open rate for 2012 was up 2.6 percentage points over 2010, and the CTR was up 1.1 percentage points over the same time period. Meanwhile, the open rate for prospect lists increased only slightly, but the CTR for these emails nearly doubled in the two-year timeframe, pointing to an increased ability to resonate with prospects once they opened an email.
Additional Q4 2011 findings from email and multichannel marketing services provider Epsilon offered greater insight into which industries and verticals are seeing the highest email performance metrics. Apparel retailers in North America had the highest-and a near-perfect-delivery rate, not surprising considering the deliberateness, and often judiciousness, with which consumers sign up for these emails. The Travel/hospitality - travel services industry enjoyed a non-bounce rate of 98.0% and an open rate of 31.5%; while click rate and click-to-open rate reached 4.3% and 13.5% respectively. (eMarketer, July 2012)
The Bermuda Department of Tourism is midway through its first mobile ad campaign as it targets a relatively affluent audience from nearby markets on the East Coast of the US. The tourism board enlisted ad agency Ingenuity Media for the campaign and Google's AdMob unit, which created the mobile banner ads and landing pages.
The campaign targets smartphone and iPad users with household incomes of $135,000 and above in key markets along the East Coast of the US, which generally may feature two-hour flights or thereabouts to Bermuda.
The destination marketing organization (DMO)'s intent is to catch mobile users' attention while they are engaged in or receptive to starting the travel planning process.
Bermuda's campaign kicked off in early July and runs through the end of 2011. The DMO keyed in on travel, health and fitness, and finance verticals to reach what it sees as the appropriate audience.
The ads led to AdMob-created landing pages, which provided further information about the destination, led to additional engagement on Twitter and Facebook, offered booking links at GoToBermuda.com, featured click-to-call functionality, and/or prompted mobile users to download Bermuda's new iPhone app.
Google has been working with tourism boards on mobile campaigns for the past two years, and demand for mobile advertising is increasing. (tnooz - talking travel tech, September 2011)
Among the first US destinations to employ this technology, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater (VSPC) has launched a 3-D "Two Treasures Tour" - a cutting-edge Augmented Reality (AR) experience - that allows the user to interact with the area's natural and cultural highlights.
By simply placing a printed "marker" in front of a computer webcam, visitors are now able to take an interactive 3-D tour, exploring the area's world-class beaches (Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park and Fort De Soto Park) and two of downtown St. Pete's most prominent arts destinations (the new Dali Museum and the Chihuly Collection - Morean Arts Center).
Each stop includes clickable icons that feature boxes with fun facts, travel tips, images and links for more information. Destinations outlined on a nearby sign post provide the user with a road map as they navigate through the sights. (aboutourism, July 2011)
City officials and businesses are using services such as quick response codes (better known as QR codes), social media sites and mobile phone-based apps to draw traffic, build customer loyalty for repeat visitors, and help track tourism activity. And compared with other popular destinations, San Antonio is using those tools effectively to develop the city's online presence.
Incorporating new technology along the famed River Walk, the city launched a self-guided tour this spring called the Historic Hugman River Walk Tour. Interpretive signs with scannable QR codes dot the River Walk's pathways, beckoning travellers to access the tour using smartphones and tablet computers.
Barcodes have been sprouting up around bigger cities including New York and Los Angeles at landmarks and parks. San Antonio's use of the codes along the River Walk will help officials learn how frequently people actually stop to participate in the tour. Since the tour was made available in May, it has been accessed via QR code by about 2,000 unique visitors, city officials said.
Local businesses also are embracing technology to attract more customers. A new, free app aims to bring traffic to the Southtown area, which is not frequented as much by tourists as the popular River Walk. The app developer, Broussard, who runs a downtown bicycle advertising company said he worked with 16 participating Southtown businesses to create the app, which shows upcoming events, deals, tour information and happy hour specials. (aboutourism.com, July 2011)
According to PhoCusWright's Philip C. Wolf, the travel, tourism and hospitality industry will become a real-time global market place. So all parts of the travel value chain (be it business or leisure travellers) and all types of suppliers (air, hotel, car, cruise) will all be live and active globally 24x7.
Philip C. Wolf has been a travel technology evangelist for over two decades, betting on the power of Internet and how it will change the travel industry. In a recent interview, Wolf joins the dots on the mega tech trends impacting the travel business. Harnessing the power of the social media in an always-connected global marketplace is the next big challenge facing travel companies, according to Wolf.
According to Wolf, a major milestone was Travel2.0 where one-way communication was replaced with two-way communication. Conversations took over and customers became equal stake-holders with other industry suppliers. Customers could share ideas, blog, post, tweet and do all these things. In fact, the current social media revolution is a by-product of the Travel2.0 concept. Rather than producers of websites just pushing content one way, customers were having conversations with them.
Now, a new milestone is that customers are connected 24x7 through multiple devices. This has never happened before. Last-minute travel has taken an entirely new meaning. A lot of this has to do with collaborative consumption. People are connected real time; you know where they are, and different parties can talk about different services and products, and all these happen real-time. Collaborative consumption is a powerful phenomenon. This is what companies such as Groupon and Zipcar are all about. Zipcar lets you hire cars by the hour instead of the day. They do not have offices in cities but they allow customers to find the car nearest to them through geo-located services. These technical tools are changing the various pieces of the travel industry.
Going forward, the travel, tourism and hospitality industry will become a real-time global market place. So all parts of the travel value chain (be it business or leisure travellers) and all types of suppliers (air, hotel, car, cruise) will all be live and active globally 24x7. And technology will allow a lot of searching, shopping, and comparing in a globally networked market place. The future is a real-time, connected global marketplace. And this will be device and channel agnostic, of course. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, July 2011)
Lonely Planet and the Lee County & Convention Bureau (VCB) have announced a first-of-its-kind strategic marketing partnership. Lonely Planet, one of the world's leading travel content provider, will create editorial guides across multiple channels (including print, digital, and mobile) to compliment the VCB's promotional campaigns and expand its marketing reach.
Lonely Planet will produce a customized printed guide for the destination, and a digital version will be posted online at www.fortmyers-sanibel.com. The partnership also includes development of a custom iPhone app, eight unique travel videos featuring Lonely Planet authors touring the region, a micro-site hosted by www.lonelyplanet.com, and advertising on both LonelyPlanet.com and the UK edition of Lonely Planet Magazine.
Lonely Planet's content will be available for Lee County visitors beginning in December 2010. The Lee County VCB represents The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel on southwest Florida's Gulf Coast. (Travelmole, October 2010)
Last Updated on Saturday, 29 June 2013 20:16