June 02, 2009

New study reveals changes in leisure travelers’ online search behavior


Travelers visit search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN first (34%) when considering vacation destination alternatives. The Web sites of specific countries or destination boards are visited next (23%), followed by online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity (22%), according to a new study by Ypartnership.

While the percentage of leisure travelers who report making reservations online has grown more than thirty-seven percent (37%) 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 MONITORSM, fully sixty-six percent (66%) of leisure travelers now use the Internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35% in 2000), while fifty-six percent (56%) now report making reservations online. The nationally representative survey of 1,590 active travelers was conducted during the months of February and March, 2009, and is co-authored annually by Ypartnership and Yankelovich, Inc.

Travelers visit search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN first (34%) when considering vacation destination alternatives. The Web sites of specific countries or destination boards are visited next (23%), followed by online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity (22%). Only one percent (1%) of travelers commence their search for a vacation destination by visiting a blog.

Search patterns for selecting an airline or lodging accommodation are understandably different. Consumers who are searching for these travel services first visit the Web sites of online travel agencies (42% and 31%, respectively). Brand-specific sites (41%) follow closely when leisure travelers are selecting an airline, yet significantly less so when they select lodging (21%). Meta search engines that compare fares are visited first by over one-out-of-ten travelers (13%) when selecting an airline.

Related Link: Ypartnership