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Travel MONITOR Reveals Changes In Leisure Travelers’ Online Searches

While the percentage of leisure travelers who report making reservations online has grown more than thirty-seven percent (37%) since the year 2000, “Consumers’ search behavior has changed in recent years as people have become more familiar with search technology and the number of travel planning/purchasing sites has grown exponentially,” said Peter C. Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership.According to the just-released National Travel MONITORSM, fully sixty-six percent (66%) of leisure travelers now use the Internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35% in 2000), while fifty-six percent (56%) now report making reservations online. The nationally representative survey of 1,590 active travelers was conducted during the months of February and March, 2009, and is co-authored annually by Ypartnership and Yankelovich, Inc.

Travelers visit search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN first when considering vacation destination alternatives. The Web sites of a specific countries or destination boards are visited next, followed by online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity. Only one percent (1%) of travelers commence their search for a vacation destination by visiting a blog:

Visit First When Selecting a Destination

Source                                       % 

Search engine like Google, Yahoo, MSN 34

Web site of national tourist office/CVB 23

Online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity 22

Web site of hotel chain 8

Web site of individual hotel or resort 7

Web Blog 1


Search patterns for selecting an airline or lodging accommodations are understandably different. Consumers who are searching for these travel services first visit the Web sites of online travel agencies. Brand-specific sites follow closely when leisure travelers are selecting an airline, yet significantly less so when they select lodging. Meta search engines that compare fares are visited first by just over one-out-of-ten travelers when selecting an airline:

Visit First When Selecting an Airline

Source                 %

Web site of online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity 42

Web site of specific airline 41

Meta search engine that compares fares 13

Visit First When Selecting Hotel/Resort

Source               %

Web site of online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity 31

Search engine like Google, Yahoo, MSN 26

Web site of specific hotel chain 21

Web site of individual hotel/resort 10

Meta search engine that compares rates 5