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New study reveals UK, US and Canadian travel booking habits

New study reveals UK, US and Canadian travel booking habits

A new study conducted by comScore explored how the interaction between travel booking websites and other influential online and offline touchpoints can impact the purchase journey for American, British and Canadian travelers.

The 2016 Traveler’s Path to Purchase study examines the 45-day period leading up to online travel booking, including desktop and mobile device usage, content consumption, resources utilized, destinations considered and the role of digital advertising in the decision-making process, as well as behavioral comparisons across the three countries. The research shows that consumption of digital travel content is on the rise with a growth rate of 44 percent in the U.K., 41 percent in the U.S. and 18 percent in Canada. Travel content is also widely consumed in each country by 75 percent of digital users in the U.K., 70 percent in Canada and 60 percent in the U.S.

While the growth rate, number of users and time spent on digital travel content varies by country, the study found that travelers in the three countries share some behavioral similarities when it comes to travel planning. During the research and booking process, digital users are actively seeking travel content and are receptive to new information; nearly one third or more of online travel bookers across the three countries were influenced by advertising.

In the U.S. and the U.K., significantly more people engage with travel content on mobile devices than on desktops, making mobile the platform with the largest digital reach across the travel category

• Canadian travelers are slowly shifting away from desktop-only usage at 36 percent in 2016 compared to 46 percent in 2015; but overall, more minutes are still spent on desktop than mobile devices in the country

• In the U.K., multi-platform usage represents 54 percent of total digital travel users in 2016 – up from 37 percent in 2015 – which is significantly higher than the 30 percent multi-device usage in the U.S. and 29 percent in Canada, showing that British travelers are the most device-agnostic users

• The U.S. market is ahead in mobile travel content engagement, surpassing desktop engagement more than a year ago, but year-over-year mobile growth was relatively stagnant compared to Canada and the U.K.

Travel is a considered and time-consuming purchase, leading travel bookers to make hundreds of visits to travel sites in the weeks leading up to a purchase, and on average, weekly travel site visits increased leading up to booking

• In the 45 days prior to booking a trip, Canadians made 161 visits to travel sites, Americans made 140 visits and British travelers made 121 visits

• Across all three countries, more than 66 percent of travel bookers said search engines and friend or family recommendations were used most during the inspiration phase of their trip planning, followed closely by OTAs at nearly 50 percent

• During the research phase, share shifts to OTAs and hotel sites, as more than 37 percent of travel bookers in Canada, the U.K. and US say they used these resources to narrow their options, and usage remained strong during the consideration phase

• OTA, hotel site and airline site usage is consistent throughout the purchase path, but across all three markets, conversion was strongest on airline sites and OTAs

• Throughout the booking path, OTAs have the highest engagement across travel site categories, accounting for more than 30 percent of total site visits, followed by travel information sites with more than 20 percent

Destination decisions are influenced by multiple factors, and more than 50 percent of British and Canadian online travel bookers started the research process with multiple destinations in mind

• In the U.K. and Canada, the majority of users considered two or more destinations, while in the U.S., 65 percent of travel bookers considered only one destination

• Eleven percent of online travel bookers across all three markets used social media while researching destinations

• Travel bookers in the U.K. research European trips far more any other locale (61 percent), while destinations in Asia accounted for 13 percent of research

• At 31 percent, U.S. travel bookers research U.S. destinations the most, followed closely by Europe at 27 percent and Latin America (14 percent)

• Europe accounted for 33 percent of destinations researched by Canadian travel bookers, followed by Latin America (26 percent) and Asia (18 percent)

The travel advertising marketplace is crowded, but there is ample opportunity to influence decisions, particularly during the inspiration and research phases

• Thirty-eight percent of travel bookers in Canada and 30 percent of travel bookers in the U.K. were influenced by advertising when considering more than one destination

• Sixty-four percent of Canadian travel bookers, 59 percent of U.K. travel bookers and 47 percent of U.S. travel bookers recalled seeing a travel ad while shopping for or booking travel

• The largest potential for advertising impact occurred during the initial stages of the booking path, as 54 percent of British, 66 percent of American and 73 percent of Canadian travel bookers noticed advertising when they first started planning a trip

• As booking nears and users are exposed to more advertising, recall declines as much as 44 percent, illustrating that timing is everything and advertisers should target travelers early in booking path in an effort to influence decisions

“Despite broad variances in the number of American, British and Canadian digital users, the time they spend consuming online travel content, and the devices they use to access information, the key influences and resources utilized throughout the booking path were often consistent across the three countries,” said Matthew Reichek, Vice President of Product & Analytics at Expedia Media Solutions.

“These insights, coupled with the finding that nearly one third or more of online travel bookers were influenced by advertising, reveals powerful opportunities for marketers to efficiently reach travelers from multiple markets during the path to purchase.”

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