Travelers Use Search More for Hotels, But All Eyes Still On Air
- June 2012
- Marcello Gasdia
Travelers use general search engines for a range of activities, and with Google introducing several travel-related services, consumers have more options than ever to plan their travel online. A forthcoming Phocuswright Global Edition report reveals that more travelers use general search engines to look for hotels than airline tickets. Nonetheless, it's Google Flight Search that's ruffled the most feathers, including those of online travel agencies (OTAs), who fear the search giant could steal more than a sliver of their share of the online travel pie.
According to Phocuswright's Reading Between the Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines, nearly three fourths of travelers who use search engines to plan travel look for hotel rooms, while just 58% search for airline tickets. Despite the substantially lower portion of travel searchers focused on airline tickets, Google Flights has stirred up far more controversy (and concern, from OTAs and other stakeholders) than their Hotel Finder tool. Because hotel decisions are more complex than air, using Google to research hotels is far less likely to yield a firm hotel decision, and the great majority of travelers are still apt to visit other sites to make their final choices. In contrast, flight purchase decisions can be made with far less, and simpler information – airline, price and schedule. This is a key reason why Google's entry into the air shopping arena is so potentially disruptive.
"Hotels are an intimate purchase, especially when compared to flights. They can make or break a vacation, so most consumers prefer to soak up as much information as possible before they commit to their accommodations. Search engines like Google have no way of providing the level of detail consumers need to pick that perfect hotel – at least not yet – so they wind up shopping and booking on either OTA or hotel websites," says Carroll Rheem, senior director, research, at Phocuswright. "There's far less purchase risk involved with air tickets, though. If Google can serve up a convenient flight at the right price, travelers would have very little reason to look any further, particularly if they have an option to book the flight then and there."
Reading Between the Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines explores the role of general search engines in the travel planning process. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. travelers conducted as part of Phocuswright's Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition, the report provides an overview of travelers' search engine brand usage, motives for using search, travel products searched for and more.
Key topics include:
- Travelers' usage of general search engines by brand – Google, Yahoo!, Bing and others
- Frequency of general and travel-related search by traveler age and percentage of travel
- Travelers' attitudes toward search engines, and reasons for using them for general and travel-related purposes
- Travel-related activities conducted using search, including use of search by travel product – air, hotel, car, activities and more.
For more information on U.S. consumers' travel-related behavior and attitudes, check out Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition.