55% of Internet users book holidays online

More than half of Internet users book their holidays directly online, according to a research findings by Nielsen//NetRatings which were looking into online travel habits of UK consumers.

As per the research which was conducted on behalf of marketing agency Harvest Digital and pan-European advertising network Adviva across the Adviva network, only seven percent research and buy their holidays from travel agents on the high street and one percent book on Teletext. Nine percent of Internet users book their holidays on the high street after researching online and a further 17 percent research holidays online then book over the telephone proving that the Internet is the most important channel for researching and buying holidays.

The research was conducted through Adviva, the largest CPM focused network in the UK, which reaches 19.7 unique users with seven million impressions a month in the travel sector. 863 completed questionnaires were collected.

Among other findings, a beach holiday is the most common type of holiday booked online followed by a long-haul trip, cruise or fly-drive whilst activity holidays are more popular on the high street. Two thirds of online shoppers usually take two or more major holidays (one week or more) a year and a quarter have three or more holidays. Older people are particularly likely to take regular holidays with 23 percent of people aged 55 and over taking three holidays per year compared with just 16 percent of Internet users overall. This group is also likely to book a holiday at the last minute: 28 percent of people aged over 55 booked their holiday a month or less before departure, compared with 25 percent of under 24’s and 18 percent of Internet users overall.

Mike Teasdale, planning director, Harvest Digital said, “As the first truly global medium, the Internet has always had a special affinity with the travel industry and powerful new entrants are rumoured to be entering the market, most notably Google with their long-rumoured Google Travel portal. Obviously offline media still has a vital role to play in the marketing mix, but once an online consumer is interested in a specific destination or holiday, they use the Internet to research and buy.”

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Fiona McKinnon, European corporate development director, says: “Our research reveals the degree at which the Internet has changed our traditional means of booking and researching our holidays. The most noticeable shift is from the high street with more than three quarters of holidays now researched or booked online. This is reflected in the high number of people booking late deals and taking more holidays than the average British consumer. The easiest, quickest and most responsive way for travel brands to influence internet users in their holiday decision making process is to advertise online.”

Almost half of Internet users book holidays based on recommendations from friends and families while a third of people read the travel articles in magazines and newspapers, 15 percent use Teletext and a one in five respondents watch holiday programmes on TV. Almost two thirds of Internet users also use a search engine and other online sources also rate highly: 40 percent of people research on airline websites, over a third use travel agent websites and local tourism guides such as VisitScotland.com are a resource for 28 percent of internet users. 27 percent of people use their high street travel agent as a source of information; far higher than the number of people who book instore. 60 percent of those who use a search engine book four or more major holidays per year along with 38 percent of magazine-readers which contrasts with just 13 percent of those who visit their local travel agent.

Teasdale adds, “Consumers are telling us that word of mouth is very important in terms of choosing a potential holiday. In the past, that would have been a casual chat over a pint: now it seems that the online equivalent is sites like TripAdvisor.com where an entire community are posting tips and recommendations about good places to go.”

Online travel booking and research is even more common for 25 - 34 year olds, and for people booking within four weeks of their departure date. On both cases 68 percent of people would book directly on the Internet. The survey also revealed that three quarters of people book their own holidays with no major differences in the travel booking habits of men and women. The only group with a high number of respondents saying they make or influence the holiday decision but somebody else buys was in the 16-24 age group.
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