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Study Reveals Changes In Leisure Travelers' Online Search Behavior

May 28, 2009 By: George Dooley


While the percentage of leisure travelers who report making reservations online has grown more than 37 percent since the year 2000, "Consumers' search behavior has changed in recent years as people have become more familiar with search technology and the number of travel planning/purchasing sites has grown exponentially," said Peter C. Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership.

According to the just-released National Travel MONITOR, fully 66 percent of leisure travelers now use the Internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35 percent in 2000), while  percent 56 percent now report making reservations online. The nationally representative survey of 1,590 active travelers was conducted during the months of February and March and is co-authored annually by Ypartnership and Yankelovich, Inc.

Travelers visit search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN first when considering vacation destination alternatives. The websites of a specific country's or destination's boards are visited next, followed by online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity. Only 1 percent of travelers commence their search for a vacation destination by visiting a blog.

Visit First When Selecting a Destination

Search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN— 34 percent
Web site of national tourist office/CVB— 23 percent
Online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity— 22 percent
Website of hotel chain— 8 percent
Website of individual hotel or resort— 7 percent
Blog— 1 percent

Search patterns for selecting an airline or lodging accommodations are understandably different. Consumers who are searching for these travel services first visit the websites of online travel agencies. Brand-specific sites follow closely when leisure travelers are selecting an airline, yet significantly less so when they select lodging. Meta search engines that compare fares are visited first by just over one-out-of-10 travelers when selecting an airline.

Visit First When Selecting an Airline

Website of online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity— 42 perent
Website of specific airline— 41 percent
Meta search engine that compares fares— 13 percent

Visit First When Selecting Hotel/Resort

Website of online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity— 31 percent
Search engine like Google, Yahoo, MSN— 26 percent
Web site of specific hotel chain— 21 percent
Web site of individual hotel/resort— 10 percent
Meta search engine that compares rates— 5 percent

For further information on the National Travel MONITOR visit www.ypartnership.com.


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