20 million people in the UK utilised search engines for travel information in the first quarter of 2007, according to a study about online consumer behaviour in the travel sector. (1/11/2008)
The study, by Google UK and comScore, Inc., indicated that consumers are using search engines in more sophisticated ways to research and purchase travel in the UK.
Google UK´s Robin Frewer, Industry Leader, Travel said that the research proves travel searchers are becoming more brand fickle -- spending a large amount of time researching their desired purchase, and considering offers from competing brands.
"The fact that users are using more generic search queries gives ample opportunity for brands to attract new customers -- and brands that are not present during these searches are missing out on sales," said Frewer.
"Online research and more specifically search has become a critical first step for consumers considering purchases," said Bob Ivins, EVP of European Markets for comScore. "By studying the entire online purchase path from first search to actual transaction we are able to quantify the importance of that first search and subsequent searches, and help marketers impact purchase decision. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to leverage comScore´s global Internet usage and e-commerce tracking systems to help Google better understand how customers behave during the purchase cycle."
Key findings include:
-- On average, consumers take nearly a month to go from their first search to a purchase
On average, customers make 12 travel related searches, visit 22 websites and take 29 days from the first time they search until they make a purchase. 45% of transactions occur four weeks or more after the first search. The time spent online is lengthy, representing a prolonged opportunity for advertisers to reach and influence consumers while they search for information.
-- On average travelers visit the purchase website 2.5 times
Most shoppers visit the site they eventually purchase from more than once, averaging 2.5 visits. For tour operators this was significantly higher at 3.9. Just 10% of the transactions take place on the first search referral to a given site, and 38% of transactions happen at four weeks or more after the first visit. Travel companies face a growing challenge to retain the online consumer as the proliferation of competition encourages travel customers to shop around.
-- Generic search terms play a significant role in the consumer journey to purchase
Many travel businesses could be missing out on the opportunity for additional bookings and branding opportunities by overlooking the value of advertising against generic search terms. 54% of online travel buyers started the shopping process with a generic product or destination search term, and 10% did not use branded terms at all during their online travel shopping experience. Importantly, over a third of travel buyers use a generic term as the last search before they purchase, giving advertisers a key window to influence their purchase right up until the last minute.