Searching, researching, planning and buying, an eMarketer senior analyst looks at the behavioral patterns of online travelers.

For many consumers, travel planning is not just a means to an end, but an enjoyable activity in its own right. The intangible nature of travel makes it well suited for online research. PhoCusWright claims three-fifths of online travel shoppers cite search engines as resources to research their vacations.

A comScore study of search behavior prior to online purchasing found that a higher percentage of travel shoppers conduct relevant searches in the 12 weeks prior to making an online purchase than online buyers of computer hardware, apparel and sports and fitness goods. Some 73 percent of online travel buyers conducted relevant keyword searches in the weeks prior to an online travel purchase, and more than three-quarters of the searches performed by these consumers were based on generic terms as opposed to merchants’ brand names.

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