BookingSuite Report: Traveler Trends 2016

This three-part series will explore current trends in online booking behavior. The series also addresses how our property partners can adapt to the contemporary booker’s needs. Check back weekly for each new installment. 

2016 start

The stakes are high when it comes to booking travel. For many people, a trip is the largest discretionary purchase they’ll make in a given year. And, of course, everyone wants their vacation to be a dream-come-true.

As a result, travel decisions are often high risk. People do not want to make any missteps when it comes to booking travel. Combined with the regular infrequency of taking vacations, this means that it’s a decision that people spend a lot of time considering. (Source: Bing)

journey-typeGoogle collects–and reports–an incredible amount of information on traveler behavior. The company characterizes the various stages of travel preparation. In this series, we will exam three of the most important stages of travel prep: inspiration, research, and decision.

In this series, we’ll provide an overview of how consumers go through these stages in the age of online travel.

The Inspiration Stage, Traveler’s mindset: Little/no direction, open-minded, influenced by others

Travel options can seem endless. Booking.com alone has over one million accommodations in its marketplace. Loyalty programs, while abundant, tend to not affect today’s travelers and 82% of travelers haven’t chosen the accommodation they’ll book when they first start thinking about a trip.

While one would expect the internet to dominate in terms of sources of inspiration for travel, there is another, more traditional, influencer on travel: family.

Fifty-six percent of travelers get offline travel inspiration from family and friends. The same percentage of people receive travel inspiration from the internet. Children are even more influential for family travelers, as 87% of family trips are influenced by kids. (Source: Google, “The 2014 Traveler’s Road to Decision“)

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Mobile is also key to travel inspiration. Sixty-nine percent of leisure travelers with smartphones research on their phones during spare moments. What’s more, 60% of all travel destination searches come from mobile. Fleeting moments, like daydreaming on the bus during the morning commute, are the perfect opportunity to watch a video on the best tropical island vacations. When inspiration strikes, a smartphone is usually not far away.

On the other hand, video also inspires travelers. Two out of three travelers watch videos in this stage, and 88% of travel video searches on YouTube involve general travel ideas, destinations, attractions, and points of interest. This means that video helps inspire those seeking direction in their travel search.

As previously mentioned, only 18% of people have chosen an accommodation while they are first thinking about a trip. Travelers in the inspiration stage look for the right destination to give their planning direction. Only later do they discover a specific accommodation. As a result, it can be difficult for accommodation providers to influence travelers in the earliest stages of their decision.

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