Thanks to the many kinds of information that can be found on the Internet, we have increasingly become our own travel agents.
According to a study conducted by Millward Brown Digital and Expedia Media Solutions, travelers today are consulting online review sites, online travel agencies (OTAs), and travel guides before finalizing their booking decisions.
Entitled “The Travelers’ Path to Purchase,” the study showed that consumers, on average, visit travel sites 38 times leading up to a booking. This implies that a lot of additional research from multiple sources is being conducted by consumers – comparing prices, reading reviews, finding information – before they actually make a purchase.
The sites visited include travel and hotel review aggregators like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google (Google+ Local/ Google Maps); OTAs like Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak, and Priceline; and travel guides like Frommer’s. OTAs represent nearly half of the total visits – at 47 percent – followed by airline supplier sites and travel review sites.
The results of the study, which are based on the activities of over 100,000 package bookers in the US, also showed that travelers visited an average of about 36.6 retail sites in the six weeks before booking a vacation package. What does this mean? eMarketer suggests that “for advertisers seeking to redirect previous visitors back to their travel shopping carts, understanding where else these customers are most often directing their web attention is essential.”
These findings support a similar study earlier this year by TripAdvisor, which showed that travelers are increasingly dependent on the Internet to research destinations, look at text/photo/ video content, read hotel reviews, check restaurant ratings, and find information about local businesses.