Americans are traveling despite the economy, but only about half are using the Internet to research and make travel arrangements, per a new study.
About 117 million Americans -- or about 52% of U.S. adults -- have taken at least a two-day trip in the last two years. But only 47% of them used to Internet to research travel services. And 39% of recent travelers say online media actually influenced their choice of travel services, with hotel/bed and breakfast Web sites having the most influence.
The data is per Westerville, Ohio-based Ad-ology Research's study on media influence on consumer choice in travel services. The firm says online content also influenced 34% to visit local attractions and events, like amusement parks, zoos, and concerts. Traditional media influenced 27% of travelers and 32.7% of those visiting local attractions.
Cost and value are the most important considerations, per the study, which suggests that the most-researched topics are airfares and hotel/motel rates. Thirty-four percent used the Internet to search for flights, and 31% to search for hotels.
C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research, tells Marketing Daily that Web sites for specific hotels, attractions, and locations ranked high in the survey, but conceded he was a little surprised that just half of those surveyed relied on the Web to arrange travel. "Another surprise is that travel magazines did as well as they did, as did newspapers' entertainment sections. Traditional media is still holding its own."
The firm found that word of mouth -- digital or otherwise -- also had a big influence, especially on younger consumers. Social media influenced the travel choices of 35.9% of 18- to-24-year-olds, versus 23% of all U.S. adults. Per the firm, 20.6% of consumers are influenced by positive comments on sites such as Tripadvisor.com and in traditional media, magazines were the most influential for travel services; newspapers were the most influential for local attractions.
The firm says the markets where spending on airfare is highest are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, in descending order. For the study, Ad-ology surveyed an online consumer panel of 1,154 adults in January this year.