Whilst online travel booking has become considerably more standard practice around the world in recent years, such trends always differ between markets. Skift described the findings of a recent report by Tourism Australia, comparing the online planning and booking tendencies amongst travellers from ten different nations, which illustrate this point well and showcase some interesting statistics.
The study included travellers from Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the UK and the USA. Findings showed that, amongst the different groups, Brazilian travellers were the most likely to plan travel online (91%) and Chinese travellers the least (64%). Therefore the vast majority, across nations, tend to plan their travel online. However when it came to booking travel online, the numbers reduced, with Singaporeans most likely to book at 64%, and Chinese again the least likely with only 14% of travellers surveyed claiming they would book online. In general, more travellers relied on the Internet during the planning stages of their travel as opposed to travel agents or peers, and all travellers were more likely to research than to book online.
The Planning-Booking Gap
What is most interesting is the size of this gap between online travel planning and then booking. As identified by Skift, distance from the destination, online resources, government requirements and cultural factors all influence the traveller’s decision to purchase online. This is reflected in the study’s results, with countries such as the UK, USA and Singapore, where Internet use has plateaued in recent years, having the smallest planning-booking gap. Similarly the greatest gap, as highlighted above, was with Chinese travellers, which could be explained by structural and political factors in the country, including a lack of online payment systems.
It is essential to keep in mind the factors that affect how different markets can engage in the online travel planning and booking processes, and that destinations and tourism organisations take account of these factors when targeting different travellers. Additionally, whilst online conversion rates may not be high in all instances, online travel planning is consistently high, and so providing quality content should be a definite priority.
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