Reading Between The Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines

Reading Between The Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines Published June 2012 Analyst: Carroll Rheem


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For many consumers, general search engines like Google and Yahoo! have become indispensable gateways to the online universe. Most would be lost without them. And travelers are no exception. Despite their familiarity with (and often, loyalty to) countless household travel brands, travelers still flock to search engines when they plan their trips online. But even with millions of daily search users, stiff competition remains for travel companies seeking to tap into this vast stream of potential customers. Understanding the role that general search engines play in the travel shopping and buying process is vital in order to leverage the channel successfully. What motivates consumers to use search? What types of activities are most common? What travel content do they search for and why?

Reading Between the Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines explores the role of general search engines in the travel planning process. The report provides an overview of travelers' search engine brand usage, motives for using search, travel products searched for and more. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. travelers that was conducted as part of Phocuswright’s Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition, the report delivers a comprehensive assessment of how travelers use and view search engines, along with key implications for travel companies.

Report highlights 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' dependence on and 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, destination activities and more
  • Key implications of travelers' attitudes and usage of search engines for travel marketers

The popularity of search engines among consumers in general – and travelers in particular – demands that travel companies have a clear understanding of why and how they're being used. Download Reading Between the Links: Why Travelers Use General Search Engines for the data and analysis that will help drive smart, strategic decisions.

And for even more information on U.S. consumers' travel-related behavior and attitudes, check out Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition.

Not sure this is the report for you? Contact our experts to find the research that fits your needs. +1 860 350-4084 x501

  • Overview, Methodology and Research Highlights
    • Overview
    • Methodology
    • Research Highlights
      • Don’t forget Yahoo! – a majority of travelers haven’t
      • A glass half-full is also half-empty
      • From the cradle to the grave
      • Most travelers would be lost without search…
      • Necessary for takeoff
      • Keyword bidding works, but not for all
      • You don’t ask for directions when you know where you’re going
      • Some sites benefit more from a wingman
      • I booked on Google, didn’t I?
  • Search Engine Usage
    • Quick Stats
  • Attitudes and Perceptions Around Search
    • Quick Stats
  • Motivators and De-Motivators for Search Usage
    • Quick Stats
  • Travel Products Searched
    • Quick Stats
  • Demographical Information

Phocuswright fielded an online consumer survey January 13-23, 2011 through Global Market Insite, Inc., targeting the general U.S. adult population who has Internet access and travels for leisure.

To qualify for participation in the study, respondents had to indicate they had taken at least one leisure trip at least 75 miles from home in the past 12 months that included paid lodging and/or air travel. An additional screener required consumers to have played an active role in planning their leisure trips. Respondents who qualified are referred to as "U.S. travelers." The term "lodging" is used in this report to refer to the broad range of paid accommodations – hotels and other nightly priced lodging products, as well as timeshares and vacation rentals. To simplify references to travelers who use general search engines to plan travel, this report refers to these respondents as "travel searchers."

Phocuswright received 2,010 qualified responses, and the weighted respondent pool can be projected with confidence to the U.S. adult population with Internet access. A total of 4,915 respondents were surveyed to obtain baseline metrics about travelers and nontravelers within the general online population. The error interval for analysis of the U.S. traveler population is +/-2.19% at a 95% confidence level. Significant differences noted in this report were identified at a 95% confidence level.

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research, Phocuswright projects the number of U.S. adults with Internet access who have taken at least one leisure trip (as previously defined) to be 115 million people in 2011. These travelers represent 48% of the total U.S. population. The additional requirement for respondents to have played an active role in travel planning further tightens the focus of the study, as 18% of travelers were consequently disqualified. Phocuswright's Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition examines travelers who played an active role in planning their trips.

US $745 
CA $942 • £524 • €602
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