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In Europe, the digital travel market is already mature, as travellers from many countries in the region are already booking and searching for travel online. In other regions in the world, this is not the case yet. Interestingly, consumers in the UK are already actively using digital channels for travel planning, in fact, half of consumers in Great Britain, aged between 16 and older research travel online. Both men and women are equally using digital for travel planning but when looking in more detail at the age groups that make use of digital travel planning the most, it is interesting to see that especially the age groups of the 25 to 34 year olds are searching for travel related products and services the most. A total of 65% of these young consumers are using digital travel research when planning a holiday (eMarketer 2013).

DIGITAL TRAVEL SEARCH

Although consumers in the UK aged between 25 and 34 show the highest propensity of searching for travel online with 65%, 58% of the 35-44 year olds are also making use of digital services. As do 56% of UK consumers aged between 45 and 55. This is quite interesting, as consumers across different age groups use digital services related to travel.

What is it that consumers are purchasing online, when searching for travel related products and services? One third of consumers made a purchase relating to travel accommodation and another 32% of consumers also made other travel purchases online.

TOP TRAVEL SITES

When looking at top travel sites in the UK, Google Maps UK is still the number one travel site amongst UK consumers with 10.65% of July’s share of visits going to the site. In second place, TripAdvisor held 6.38% of visits which is no surprise as the reviewing site is very popular among UK consumers when researching and planning travel. Booking.com held 2.87% of the market share of visits in July 2013, followed by National Rail Enquiries with 1.97% and Thomson Holidays with 1.77%. This distribution in terms of the top 5 travel sites among UK consumers based on their market share of visits is very interesting.

DEVELOPMENT OF DIGITAL TRAVEL RESEARCH

In 2013, it is estimated that 64.5% of Internet users in the UK are digital travel researchers. This demonstrates an increase of 3.8% from 2012 and future predictions imply that from 2014 onwards, growth will slow down to 3.2% in 2014, 2.9% in 2-15 and 2.6% in 2016. In comparison to that, digital travel bookings are also slowing down but not by as much as digital travel research. In 2013, 58% of consumers booked travel online which is a 4.8% change from the previous year. In years to come, both digital travel research and digital travel booking will grow in single digits to 25.9 million digital travel bookers in 2017 and 28.5million digital travel researchers. Digital does comprise of big opportunities for tourism organisations worldwide that aim to leverage the power of digital.

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