A new study out from Phocus Wright addresses some of the myths about online travel behavior:
- Less people are buying travel online: Not so, says the study. In fact the number is on the rise. In 2007, approximately 70% of online travelers (that is, adults who have taken a commercial air trip and stayed at a hotel for leisure in the past year, and used the Internet in the past 30 days) bought travel online, compared to 63% in 2006
- Online travel shoppers use supplier sites than online travel agencies. While this is a widespread perception, online travel agencies are making a comeback, says Phocus Wright.
- Travel agencies are experiencing a resurgence as travelers return to traditional purchasing channels. In reality, even many formerly exclusive offline buyers are migrating online for travel shopping and buying.
- The next generation of travelers prefers to do everything online. While online plays a big part in travel purchaes, less than half of what 18-28 year olds spend on travel is spent online.
- Social networks and travel reviews have the greatest influence on travel decision-making. The NEXTgen Traveler(TM) report reveals that while social media is widespread, destination Web sites and online travel agencies are favored by nearly half of next generation travelers during the travel shopping process.
I’d take the last one with a pinch of salt. According to research from eMarketer peer reviews and opinions online are the most trusted forms of advertising. Branded websites are at #4. So while a searcher will visit the website or an online travel agency they are still likely to be influenced by the reviews they read.
Search and social media should be top of the list for any hotel or travel company. Create articles in RSS Feeds and add images and video. Make it easy for visitors to leave opinions, reviews or comments on your articles.