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Retail and travel site visitation aligns as consumers plan and book vacation packages

Theodore Koumelis - 28 August 2013, 10:09

New study from Expedia Media Solutions found that OTAs were used for more than just last minute price comparisons. Only 35 percent of all OTA visits the week of a package booking occurred the same day as the booking, implying that additional research was conducted during that time period.


BELLEVUE, WASH. - A new study from Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of global online travel leader Expedia, Inc., revealed that internet usage and online content consumption spike during the vacation package planning and booking phases. The findings also identified a unique correlation between the frequency of visits to retail and travel sites.

The Traveler's Path to Purchase study, commissioned by Expedia Media Solutions and conducted by Compete, examined the 45-day period leading up to a vacation package booking to determine what the US consumer's path to purchase looks like. It identified online consumption habits of the average vacation package booker who had visited an online travel agency (OTA) and a destination marketing organization (DMO). Key trends identified by the report include:

  • OTA's Pertinent to All Phases of Booking Process: The study found that OTAs were used for more than just last minute price comparisons. Only 35 percent of all OTA visits the week of a package booking occurred the same day as the booking, implying that additional research was conducted during that time period.
  • General and Travel Content Consumption Spike During Purchase Path: The study revealed that as consumers got closer to booking a vacation package, overall internet usage increased, with travel content showing the biggest jump.  Consumers made 38 visits to travel sites in the 45 days leading up to a package booking, but consumption of travel content more than doubled during the week of booking. On average, they made over 16 website visits on the day of booking, 30 percent of which were to travel sites, which includes everything from OTAs to hotel, airline and review sites.
  • Retail and Travel Site Consumption Patterns Align: In the 45 days leading up to a package booking, retail sites were visited almost as frequently as travel sites. Vacation bookers visited retail websites 36.6 times in the 45-day path to purchase period, while travel sites were visited 38 times. During the week of booking, however, retail site visitation dropped while travel site visitation peaked. By leveraging a travel site partnership, a retail brand could potentially remain top of mind for consumers throughout the entire 45-day period.
  • DMO Visitation Patterns and the Billboard Effect: While OTAs dominated the pre-booking research landscape in the travel category, with over 47 percent of site visits, DMO visits grew to over six percent – a 30 percent increase since 2010. Travelers checking DMO sites prior to visiting an OTA site converted 32 percent higher nine to 24 days ahead of booking. Alternatively, outside of that select time period, travelers visiting DMO sites did not convert as well, illustrating that a partnership between OTAs and DMOs has the potential to drive conversions and be mutually beneficial for both parties.
"Through this study we're able to better understand what the overall purchase path looks like – from the initial research phase through to the booking process – and how we can develop dynamic products and solutions that will help our partners stay top-of-mind with consumers," said Noah Tratt, global vice president, Expedia Media Solutions. "We're continuously sharing knowledge with our partners with the goal of creating a synergistic relationship that also delivers a relevant and dynamic user experience."

The Traveler’s Path to Purchase

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