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Last week Google has published an update of it comprehensive Traveller study. A survey among 5,000 US consumers shed light on the role of travel in thelives of US consumers and the role of online channels in particular. The study confirms some of the major trends and also provides an interesting insights into the mindset of contemporary travellers, what inspires them, their travel research strategies and on trip behaviour. The full study is available for download at: //bit.ly/1gxOG5s

PRICE REALLY MATTERS

The study clearly confirmed that travellers seek above all value, as price has been identified as the most important for selecting a variety of travel components, including air travel, lodging, car rental and destinations. In order to identify the the best value available, conusmers invest increasingly time in researching on the web. This is an ongoing trend as 66% of leisure travellers and 60% of business travellers indicated that they plan to spend more time researching before booking to find better value offers.

At the same time, the results of the study suggest that loyalty programmes assume an important role in travellers’ decision making processes, as on average 3 in 4 travellers are more likely to book due to loyalty rewards. However, the previously outlined price sensitivity should be a warning to marketers that conduct loyalty programmes. It raises the question wether these incentives make consumers loyalty to a brand or just loyal to a discount.

TRAVELLERS' ONLINE SEARCH STRATEGIES

The study found that search engines and brand websites are the two most consulted online sources when researching and booking travel. Online travel agencies only come third, closely followed by online map services. Given the increase in mobile bookings and travellers’ usage of smartphones on the go, as discussed frequently on the Digital Tourism Think Tank portal, the importance of map services is likely to grow in the near future. Maps are an excellent way for delivering local and contextually relevant search results of travel products.

ONLINE VIDEOS ARE KEY THROUGHOUT THE TRAVEL FUNNEL

The study suggested that travellers make more often use of online travel videos. On a year on year basis the use of online travel videos of leisure travellers grew by 6%, the use by business travellers and affluent travellers by 5%. The most popular types of videos include, trip reviews from experts and commercially produced videos by travel suppliers. Most interestingly for marketers, the study confirmed  that videos play a key role through out the travel funnel. At each stage (form inspiration, choice, research,, etc) apart from the booking stage, more than 50% of travellers indicated they revert to videos as a source for facilitating their decision making.

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