Online travel bookers studied according to age

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on April 19, 2006

Consumers' travel planning preferences vary dramatically across generations, meaning that marketers have an the opportunity to create new strategies for specific generational segments, according to a travel study from Compete Inc.

The research found that the 'baby boomer' generation is currently every travel distributor's best prospect for travel bookings. More than 10% of the 17 million baby boomers in the USA who research travel online each month said they would also book their trip online. This figure was considerably higher than it was for young travellers, who tend to shop around, and seniors who are often less comfortable about purchasing travel through the internet.

According to Compete senior associate Gregory Saks, "Travel marketers that develop content, services and promotions targeted at different age groups will be ideally positioned to more effectively manage their online distribution strategies. Ensuring that certain functionality is marketed and directed appropriately - such as live online customer service for Seniors, or last-minute deals and specials for the price-conscious 'Generation Y', for example - will help improve look-to-book ratios."

Generational differences
Compete analysed travellers' behaviour in seven generational segments to understand differences in how travellers of different ages use online resources as they research and book their travel.

Each generation was benchmarked in the number and type of travel sites used, agency and supplier preferences, booking decisions, and brand preferences. The study examined traveller behaviour covering more than 1,000 online travel shops.

Key findings
Other key findings from the research included:

  • Coolness Quotient
    Young travellers (aged 18-24) are the online travel agency's best target. They are influenced by flashy marketing campaigns, and consequently spend more time on agency sites - especially price focused sites such as CheapTickets and Hotwire. Young travellers will visit an average of 1.7 online agencies when looking for travel - the highest of any generational segment. Only 19% of these Generation Y travellers bypass agencies entirely, compared to 32% of Seniors.
  • Trust and Value
    Seniors (aged 65+) prefer booking directly with airlines and hotels. Seniors also overwhelmingly favour booking flights and hotels directly with suppliers that offer lowest rate guarantees and other perks. Nearly 80% of the flights booked online by Seniors are done through supplier sites, while the figure drops as low as 72% for 25-34 year-olds. Similarly, 68% of hotel bookings made by Seniors are done directly through supplier sites, compared to 58% for the 25-34 age group.
  • Appetite for Information
    Baby boomers view an average of 36 pages of travel content when researching online. This is 15% more than young travellers, and 25% more than Seniors. Of the travel content viewed by this group, over 70% takes place on agency, hotel supplier, and airline carrier web sites.

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