Euro Travel Shoppers Visit Fewer Websites

Published September 2012 Analyst: Marcello Gasdia


Euro Travel Shoppers Visit Fewer Websites

When it comes to online travel shopping, European consumers are keeping it simple. According to Phocuswright's European Consumer Travel Report Third Edition, a Global and European Edition report, online travel shoppers in France, Germany and the U.K. trimmed down the number of websites they visited when shopping for travel in 2012.

The percentage of online travel shoppers who used only 1-2 websites to shop for travel products increased within the past year – to 41% in France, 30% in Germany and 37% in the U.K. A smaller share of travelers in each market visited three sites or more compared to the previous year.

So what's inspiring travelers to tone down their shopping around? The short-term driver is likely a decline in lodging incidence. More European travelers opted to stay with friends and family in 2012, and less complex trips require a smaller amount of travel shopping. With relatively few options among airlines and rail providers on any given route, the range of transportation brand choices is far narrower than hotels. But the almighty brand is also playing a larger role as increasingly savvy travelers begin to identify their favorite websites – and eliminate the rest from their shopping routine.

"Prolific searching behavior is fed by two simple drivers – you either have not found what you are looking for or you think you might be able to find something better. A tightened range of travel website visitation is a signal of improved confidence in the websites people use, and that visits to additional websites are not generating better information. If searching six websites does not yield better results than searching three websites, you'll eventually stop using the three that don't add value," said Carroll Rheem, senior director, research. "As the European online travel market matures, travelers are relying on fewer websites, and we're likely to see corresponding consolidation in the marketplace. It is only going to get tougher for small companies to grow their online audience."

Research reveals that European travelers are aware of their habitual behavior. An increasing portion of travelers (up 4% across the markets in 2012) indicate that they have formed travel planning routines.

Phocuswright's European Consumer Travel Report Third Edition explores consumer travel trends in three major European markets: France, Germany and the U.K. The study outlines year-over-year changes across a comprehensive range of travel metrics, including leisure travel incidence, trip frequency and duration, travel expenditure, international travel and travel product purchases. Analysis covers the use of online and offline channels during three isolated stages of the travel planning process – destination selection, shopping and booking – and provides an in-depth look at travel-related engagement via the mobile web and social networks.

Key topics include:

  • Year-over-year trends in baseline travel metrics such as incidence of travel, travel expenditure, frequency and duration of trips, international travel and travel party composition
  • Consumption trends within major travel segments (lodging, air, rail), as well as car rental, packaged holidays, cruise and destination activities
  • Analysis of 2012 destination types (i.e., independent destination selection, visiting friends and relatives, attending social events, etc.), as well as an in-depth look at the sources of information travelers use to support their destination decisions, and online behavior within this initial phase of travel planning
  • Online shopping trends, the reasons shoppers choose specific travel websites and the types of features travelers value during online shopping
  • Online/offline booking trends by market, as well as online booking trends across key travel products including lodging, air and rail
  • Key mobile trends, including mobile web penetration and frequency of mobile web use, current engagement and future interest in travel-related mobile web functionality
  • Participation in social networks, methods for sharing travel-related experiences and activities conducted through online social networks
Phocuswright's European Consumer Travel Report Third Edition presents a robust picture of consumer travel trends in three key countries, so that travel companies can best position themselves in these complex and challenging markets.