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On Again, Off Again: Why Online Travelers Book Offline

On Again, Off Again: Why Online Travelers Book Offline

Consumer behavior during the all-important purchase phase is what most travel companies aspire to influence. Online booking has become the norm, yet many travelers choose to book some of their travel offline, and give a variety of reasons for doing so. According to PhoCusWright’s Consumer Travel Report Second Edition,, the top reason U.S. travelers give for booking offline is that they were seeking personal service. On the other hand, security concerns and technology issues, once a significant deterrent of online bookings, are no longer a major factor. Just 7% of offline bookers say they do not want to submit credit card information online, and roughly the same percentage do not feel the information they see online is accurate. Only 9% of those who book online cite technical issues or frustration with the Internet as the reason.

Chart: Reasons to Book Leisure Travel Offline

While discomfort with technology and the Internet is no longer the main driver of offline bookings, a number of other perceptions appear to be preventing some transactions from moving to the online channel. The number two and three reasons for booking offline relate to perceptions—or perhaps, misperceptions—about differences between online and offline booking. Specifically, 21% of travelers who book offline feel they can get a better deal when they call or visit a travel agent or supplier. In addition, 16% believe they would get better customer service (when booking offline) if something goes wrong.

Clearly, an opportunity exists for any travel company that wants to shift transactions from their call center to their website. The challenge is to dispel the notion (which may or may not be accurate) that there are significant differences in pricing and/or customer service between online and offline channels. By communicating a clear and consistent pricing policy, and establishing messaging that instills greater confidence in customer service, travel companies may convince resistant consumers to shift their bookings online.

PhoCusWright’s Consumer Travel Report Second Edition provides an overview of the state of consumer travel in the U.S. and insights into key indicators for the upcoming year. The report explores a range of topics, including channel usage, general travel behavior, and psychographics. For executives who rely on insight into U.S. travelers’ behavior and attitudes, this report (US$1,695) is an indispensable resource.