Compete, Inc. today announced findings from a new travel study, "Online Travel Comes of Age." The study’s findings reveal that consumer’s travel planning preferences vary dramatically across generations, providing savvy marketers the opportunity to create distinct strategies for targeting specific generational segments. Full research findings will be presented during a web seminar “Consumer Insights for Today's Travel Marketers” on April 27 at 2pm ET.

Compete’s research revealed that Baby Boomers (aged 45 to 64) are a travel distributor’s best bet to capture a booking. Over 10% of the 17 million Baby Boomers who research travel online each month will also book online, considerably more than Young Travelers who tend to window-shop, and Seniors who may be uncomfortable purchasing over the web.

“Travel marketers that develop content, services and promotions targeted at different age groups will be ideally positioned to more effectively manage their online distribution strategies,” said Gregory Saks, senior associate at Compete. “Ensuring that certain functionality is marketed and directed appropriately, such as live online customer service to Seniors, or last-minute deals and specials to the price-conscious “Y” Generation, for example, will help improve look-to-book ratios.”

Compete analyzed travelers’ behavior in seven different generational segments to understand generational differences in how travelers use online resources as they research and book travel online. Each generation was benchmarked in the number and type of travel sites used, agency versus supplier preferences, booking decisions, and brand preferences. The study examined traveler behavior across more than 1,000 online travel destinations.

Additional key findings include:

- The Coolness Quotient: Young Travelers (18–24) are an online agency’s best friend. They are influenced by the flashy marketing campaigns of online agencies and consequently spend more time on agency sites – especially price focused destinations like CheapTickets and Hotwire. Young Travelers will visit an average of 1.7 online agencies when looking for travel, the highest of any generational segment. Just 19% of these Generation “Y” travelers bypass agencies entirely, compared to 32% of Seniors.

- Trust and Value: Seniors (65+) prefer booking directly with airlines and hotels. Seniors overwhelmingly favor booking flights and hotels directly with suppliers that offer low-rate guarantees and other perks. Nearly 80% of the flights booked online by Seniors are done at supplier sites, while the figure drops as low as 72% for 25-34 year olds. Similarly, 68% of hotel bookings made by Seniors are at supplier direct sites, compared to 58% for the 25-34 age group.

- Insatiable Appetite for Information: Baby Boomers view an average of 36 pages of travel content when researching online. This is 15% more than Young Travelers and 25% more than Seniors. Of the travel content viewed by this group, over 70% takes place on agency, hotel supplier, and airline carrier websites.

Related Link: Compete, Inc.