google travel purchase cycle
2 years ago

Deep dive into travel research activity by online and offline bookers

Google has been very busy of late with its travel research. After last week’s plea for simplicity, mobile and personalisation comes a major look at booking patterns.

The data (and subsequent interpretation by Google) comes from two studies carried out last year with 5,000 consumers via GFK and a Nielsen study of 1,700 mobile users, both with UK respondents.

The “Sun, Sea, Sand and… Search” report comes as almost half of the British public (44%) are now believed to be researching some form of travel each month, but rather than focus solely on what those who book online are doing, Google has also looked at how offline bookers are behaving.

Over to the results:

Google found that 90% of both groups (online and offline bookers) always had one “point of departure”: the web. In other words, the vast majority of activity takes place online during the research and product search phases of the booking cycle.

Some characteristics of these groups are as follows:

Around four out of ten of online buyers (42%) are under the age of 34 and 43% of them spend more than 21 hours a week browsing the web generally – whereas 85% of offline buyers are over 34 and almost half (48%) have children.

So what are they doing in the travel search cycle?

Online buyers:

  • Number of search sessions – 16.7
  • Overall time spent – 129 minutes
  • Number of sites visited – 32.5
  • Days of activity over a 73-day period – 13.8 days

Offline buyers:

  • Number of search sessions – 11.9
  • Overall time spent – 94 minutes
  • Number of sites visited – 22.5
  • Days of activity over a 66-day period – 10.1 days

What kind of things are consumers searching for on the web?

Online bookers will perform 10.9 searches, covering:

  • Place – 5.5
  • Brand – 3.2
  • Generic – 2.2

And there offline counterparts with their 9.4 searches:

  • Place – 4.8
  • Brand – 3.1
  • Generic – 1.5

Once both groups get beyond the search phase, where are heading next?

  • Online bookers will make 32.5 visits to 10.3 websites in 4.2 categories (top: 65% visit aggregators, 58% advice sites).
  • Offline bookers will make 22.5 visits to 7.7 websites in 3.8 categories (top: 58% advice sites, 52% operator sites).

What happens when the mobile element is thrown into the mix?

Almost a third of smartphone users show some travel related activity on their mobiles, with 31% claiming they research travel but only 14% are securing a booking or getting quotes.

How do they use their mobile devices?

Solely mobile researchers are visiting just 1.1 websites during a session but those who book typically have 5.1 research sessions before visiting 3.3 websites to complete the cycle.

Finally, almost half (49%) of those using mobiles to get prices for travel products do so on aggregators, with both advice sites and operators help 40%.

Google says the most surprising aspect of the research was that online and offline bookers behave similarly, with the majority of both groups using search engines in the research phase of the booking process.

It also says mobile is THE element to keep an eye on, as travel-related mobile queries so far during 2013 are up some 66% year-on-year.

To compliment the image the top of the story outlining the typical online purchase journey, here is the offline version:

google travel purchase cycle offline

Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and publishes his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - in 2015.




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