Affluent travellers rely on digital for travel inspiration and booking, are increasingly viewing travel videos online and seeking out loyalty programs, reveals a Google study.
A majority of affluent travellers (70%) begin their trip research online even before deciding on the destination or mode of travel. About 50% plan to spend more time researching because getting value-for-money product is important.
Despite the number of travel brands focusing on the trip planning stage, 59% of affluent travellers use search engines as their go-to source for travel ideas and information.
They continue to comparison shop for all components of travel, especially hotels. Comparison activity in 2013 was higher than 2012 for all three sectors - air, hotel and car rental.
While the affluent continue to prioritize upscale hotels, interest is growing with 48% to book peer-to-peer sharing services Airbnb and Zipcar. This is seen as an emerging trend among the affluent.
The study says 68% of affluent travellers are influenced to book travel by advertisements. Among these, the top three influencing factors are search engine results, online ads and email promotions. Social media ads are considered as the sixth most influential factor.
While 87% of the affluent consider the internet as their travel planning source, only 64% consider it their travel inspiration source. Another top source of trip inspiration includes family, friends and colleagues.
Magazines, traditionally viewed as a leading source for inspiration, are not viewed as important compared to other sources.
Below are various travel activities the affluent engage across the web:
When it comes to factors that influence them in prioritizing destinations, they give the highest importance to (in-destination) activities relevant to their interests.
The other top criteria for selecting destinations include: price, past travel experience with a destination, online reviews and promotion.
Brand sites (for hotels, airlines), search engines and online travel agents (OTAs) are the top sources for planning.
Since 2011, the reliance on hotel brand sites has increased by five points, reliance on OTAs has decreased by five points and reliance on destination-specific websites has decreased by eight points.
Multi-device influence on trip planning
More than half of affluent travellers (55%) access travel information on their smartphones or tablets for planning.
They use all screens to engage in travel-related activities, and hence a multi-device strategy is no longer optional for travel brands.
The top two activities travellers perform on smartphone, tablet and computer are: researching an upcoming trip and looking up for directions/maps.
Convenience is the top reason the affluent book on smartphones.
Many affluent travellers depend on their smartphones for last-minute reservations of air, car rental, accommodation and vacation related products. Though the number of same day hotel booking services is increasing, the usage of smartphones for last-minute trip research is almost equally split across four sectors.
About 55% of travellers watch travel videos online, an increase of five points since 2012.
The affluent leverage travel videos throughout all stages of travel and engage with all types of videos.
Top video types viewed by the segment include brand videos, review videos by experts and videos posted by travel related channels.
The influence of travel videos among affluent travellers is significant with 90% taking some type of action after viewing a travel video online.
The following chart shows the impact of travel videos among the segment:
Almost all (96%) affluent travellers belong to a loyalty program, an increase of two points since 2012. They are also increasingly likely to book based on loyalty program membership of airlines, hotels, car rental brands and OTAs.
Affluent travellers are interested in joining loyalty program mainly because of financial and future perks. The following chart highlights other major reasons:
Not so surprisingly, 82% of affluent travellers prefer to get loyalty program updates via email.
The chart below explains various benefits the affluent see in airline and hotel loyalty programs:
Google commissioned Ipsos MediaCT, an independent marketing research company, to conduct a study among US consumers to better understand the role that travel plays in: airline, cruise, lodging, car rental and vacation packages.
Total sample size: 3,500 personal travellers, 1,500 business travellers and 1,500 affluent (with $250K+ household income) travellers.
NB: The entire study can be downloaded here.
NB 2:Woman image via Shutterstock.