According to recent research, travel is becoming more and more of a time consuming process, with a majority of millennials taking time to consider all their options prior to making any final purchase decisions.
According to research completed by Expedia Group Media, travel bookers will generally make hundreds of visits to travel sites in the lead up to a purchase, usually over a minimum period of 45 days.
There are four main building blocks to understanding how consumers make informed travel decisions and ultimately, purchases. These stages are inspiration, research, consideration and conversion.
Inspiration is mainly driven by input from family, friends and search engines. Clearly, user-generated content such as word-of-mouth promotion, social media posts and photos play a significant part in planting the inspiration consumers need to start thinking of travelling.
The second stage is research, where consumers will narrow down their options and start thinking about influences on their travel plans, such as travel agencies and hotel websites.
Directly prior to booking comes the consideration stage. The influence of family and friends declines, showing that once consumers have gone through a large part of the planning of their travels, they're more inclined to take advice from websites and third-party influences like travel agencies, airlines and hotel sites.
The final building block of travel purchase decision-making is conversion, wherein the consumer is finally ready to book their travels and is confident about their decision.
In 2017, travel brands realised their best advertisers are their past customers. According to Expedia’s statistics, 11% of online travel bookers use social media when making informed purchase decisions.
The majority of these travel bookers use social media to find inspiration when they first start thinking of travelling, with over 50% of travellers checking social media for travel tips and user-generated content.
User-generated content is becoming the most valuable marketing tool for travel agencies and tourism companies, with 70% of consumers valuing recommendations from peers over branded campaigns.
Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, with 84% preferring to plan a trip based on a peer’s photos than any other form of media.
According to Bazaar Voice research, 51% of millennials trust recommendations from strangers, spending an average of 30 minutes reading reviews before booking. In comparison, only 34% of boomers feel comfortable taking recommendations from online reviews.
This trend of not buying without input from peers shows the importance of companies promoting user-generated content at every stage of the online travel booking process.
Younger generations are most likely to book travel online - almost 40% of millennials won’t book a hotel or plan a trip without seeing some source of user generated content, suggesting that they extensively research their options to decrease the chance of regret.
Due to this, some micro-influencers’ posts may gain more traction and engagement on social media (e.g. Instagram) than brands themselves as there’s a believability and real-ness to their posts.
This suggests that consumers consider peers and micro-influencers more credible than brands as they have no reason to misrepresent a destination.
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