Consumer purchase habits are constantly evolving. One place this is evident is the travel and hospitality sector, in which digital channels like mobile, social media, and other emerging platforms have been influencing how travel is booked.
Adobe’s “2019 State of Travel” report used Adobe Analytics to analyze over 1 trillion visits to websites, including many of the world’s leading travel sites, to better understand how travelers move from research to buy using digital channels. (Adobe owns CMO.com.) To complement the trends uncovered, the Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) team also surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults to learn more about their travel planning habits.
Here are the top trends uncovered, packaged with takeaways and tips for marketers looking to target travel aficionados this summer.
1. Consumers increasingly research travel plans on their smartphones, but purchase on a desktop/laptop: In fact, 80% of airline sales are made on a desktop, while 46% of research occurs via smartphone. Additionally, 74% of hotel rooms are booked on desktop, while 47% of research happens via smartphone.
There is an opportunity for marketers with regard to driving more mobile bookings, according to ADI manager Vivek Pandya.
“The travel industry is spending a tremendous amount of money on their mobile apps and websites, and we suggest that brands test out providing steeper discounts to consumers on mobile to encourage usage,” Pandya said. One example of a brand that is already doing so is online travel agent (OTA) CheapTickets.com, which offers up to 40% off of hotels tickets only when they’re purchased on its mobile app.
2. Consumers are using social media to discover travel destinations: ADI research shows a strong correlation between which social channels consumers are using and their travel preferences.
“People are on social media already,” Pandya said. “They’re looking at where their friends and family have vacationed and using that as inspiration for their next getaway. We are finding that travel choices can be predicted based on the types of social apps that travelers are choosing to engage with, or are more actively using.”
For example, Pandya said, travelers who use Instagram regularly are 45% more likely to stay at an Airbnb. Regular LinkedIn users are 35% more likely to participate in a travel rewards program.
“Brands need to find relevant and creative ways to insert themselves into the social conversations that are already happening online to help inspire travel booking and help loyalists uncover cost savings opportunities,” Pandya added.
Brands such as Marriott and JetBlue, for example, not only post picturesque photos on their social media channels, but they also announce weekly deals in hopes of helping their followers save the next time they book.
Over one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds are finding hotels through social media, according to ADI, and a fifth of this cohort are finding hotels through social media influencers. However, OTAs such as Orbitz and Expedia still remain the most common way travelers are discovering hotels (65% for 25- to 34-year-olds, 72% for 35- to 44-year-olds, and 66% for 45- to 55-year-olds).
3. The research also found some generational differences among travel preferences: For example, interest in international vacations decreases as travelers get older, in favor of domestic excursions. Additionally, a person’s propensity to post pictures to social media also fades as travelers age, with younger cohorts more likely to do so. And eco-friendly trips are most important to Gen Z and Baby Boomer generations.
“In order to truly reach customers with content that is compelling and relevant, travel companies need to understand their customers,” Pandya said. “Real-time analytics driven by artificial intelligence are key to building sophisticated programs that can learn customer preferences and infer the next best step for customers on the individual level, so that you are serving the right offer to the right person, at the right time.”
4. Men and women have different booking and travel habits: Men are 40% more likely to plan trips in advance than women, who tend to be more spontaneous. This means that last-minute deals and coupons could be a winning strategy for female travelers, while “book early to save” messaging could be a better fit for men.
Generally speaking, one in three adults feel that they don’t get enough time from work for traveling. While women report having a strong interest and desire to travel, they feel more impacted by work-life factors that can make travel prohibitive like cost, limited vacation time, and children.
“It is important to understand the different nuances that impact how and if people book travel,” Pandya said. “Our advice to travel brands is to really get to know your customers and make sure you are tailoring offers and messages based on their preferences and travel planning habits.”
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About Adobe Digital Insights
Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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