Study: Just 15% of consumers say social channels influence travel choices
- About half of leisure travelers say the internet and device connectivity make travel experiences better, according to new research from the CMO Council's GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel provided to Marketing Dive. The groups drew from surveys of more than 2,000 consumers that were conducted Pollfish.
- Forty-two percent of those surveyed said technology innovations and advancements in travel have improved their experiences, and 38% use these advancements to find deals, discounts and destinations. However, just 15% of travelers said they rely on social media channels to influence their travel choices, and only 8% consider political ethics, human rights practices and prejudices when choosing a travel destination. More than 50% of surveyed travelers said deals and discounts prompt them to book a trip, and DIY travel planning was a factor for 32%. Twenty-nine percent were influenced by family and friends, 21% by images or video and 21% by interesting stories or articles.
- Online booking sites and booking assurances, including insurance coverage, were listed as the top travel planning innovations by 49%, while 34% said loyalty programs, 33% said new ways to personalize travel and 28% said promotional incentives and options. Forty-six percent said online travel aggregators and booking sites, such as Expedia and Travelocity, do the best job assisting and satisfying travelers, and that they outperformed travel agents at 32% and hospitality and travel deal sites, which were both listed as most helpful by 19% of respondents.
GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel's findings around the relatively low influence social media plays in affecting travel planning decisions stands out, especially as visually-driven platforms like Instagram have become more popular with consumers. Travel marketers should still put an emphasis on digital, per the survey results, but older tactics like deals and discounts clearly still prove a strong draw in making a purchase, along with personalized online experiences.
Recent studies offer points of contrast to the GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel report. According to MMGY Global research, 70% of American travelers are on social media at least once a day, with 83% of millennial travelers accessing social media once a day for an average of 113 minutes. Younger consumers, who are often viewed as preferring to spend more on experiences than products, are also among the most socially-conscious generations, so it is surprising that GeoBranding Center and AIG Travel found that so few travelers consider social and political issues when choosing a destination.
Millennials are big spenders on travel, and travelers in the age segment's use of Instagram, in particular, has grown 375% since 2013, per MMGY. MMGY also uncovered that 41% of travelers use Google to find prices and information during vacation planning.
Other research supports how well-crafted paid search campaigns can offer big returns for travel-industry marketers. Seventy-six percent of consumers said they have purchased from ads for summer travel and found them helpful, according to a recent Adthena study. More than half, or 54%, of respondents conducted travel searches via desktop, while 26% used mobile and desktop and 20% used mobile only, per Adthena.