Articles Smith Travel Research

Data Provided By Smith Travel Research and Phocuswright

Much of the millions spent on travel technology every year is focused on improving processes and platforms behind the scenes. However, the ultimate goal is usually to shape how, what, and where travelers book. The purpose of PhoCusWright’s (like Smith) travel research report, Traveler Technology Survey 2010, is to examine traveler adoption levels and attitudes toward new travel platforms, features, and functions powered by innovations in technology, and to see how travelers put these attitudes into action. Understanding these trends allows travel companies to identify how quickly consumers are adopting new technologies and information sources and provides a benchmark for determining where companies’ own initiatives stack up. How do travelers interact with travel companies through social networks? What percentage of travelers has a smartphone, and what activities are they performing on their devices?

Consumers often consult a broad range of information from several different sources when planning their travel. This section examines the channels travelers turn to, the media through which they get information, and what informational features influence their travel decisions.

Smith Travel Research

The travel shopping process can often be a long and complex endeavor, and most consumers not only use more than one website, but also use more than one type of website. The most common website category consumers typically use when shopping for leisure travel is online travel agencies (63%), followed by search engines (52%).  According to companies like Phocuswright and Smith, travel research shows usage of these top categories is significantly higher among users of online social networks versus non-users, as is the case with many of the various site categories. Two notable exceptions are destination websites and magazine/newspaper websites, which are nearly equally popular among online social network users and nonusers. These results reflect the age differences between users of social networks and nonusers. Users tend to be younger, and younger travelers have a stronger affinity for information aggregators such as OTAs and search. Destination and magazine/newspaper websites do not offer a wide breadth of information, and in turn, social network users do not show stronger usage of these media than non-users.

Among users, 13% typically use social networks when shopping for leisure travel. The category clearly ranks low compared to travel-specific categories and general search, but still represents a substantial group. Microblogs such as Twitter have a notably smaller following, at 3% of social network users.

Looking beyond the world of websites, recommendations from friends and family are the most widely influential at 43%. The gap between social network users and non-users is particularly strong when it comes to these recommendations, at 48% versus 31%, respectively. Phocuswright (like Smith) travel research can help you decipher what consumer trends mean for your business.