The travel industry which solely relied successfully on traditional brick and mortar storefronts not too long ago has today turned into a business dominated by the Internet. Even those who eventually purchased their ticket offline will have spent nearly three and a half hours researching online first, according to a recent GfK survey.
Another GfK study affirmed the rapidly rising dominance of the Internet in recent years, where a further one-third of all travelers have transited to using the internet for their travel bookings since four years ago—from 58 percent to today’s 90 percent. GfK’s Travel Director, Laurens Van Den Oever shared these insights at the recent China Tourism Industries Exposition held in Tianjin on 19 September 2014.
“Today, the internet is a part of the consumer journey for nearly all travelers, with some spending at least three hours researching for information—even if it doesn’t end up with them making the final purchase online,” said Van Den Oever. “A study conducted in Hong Kong showed that three in every four travelers (75%) used a combination of online and offline platforms, while 14 percent of used only the internet throughout the process leading to their online travel bookings.”
For the majority whose cross channel usage is strong—their purchase journey presents high complexity to companies and marketers who are eyeing the consumer dollar. For instance, the average online flight ticket purchaser visits 22 travel websites; including online travel agents, travel advisor, deals/group buys, airline companies, reviews/forums/blogs, facebook pages, etc.
“Destructive competition, concentration tendencies and an ever-increasing fragmented marketplace has greatly altered the supply chain over the years; making the travel market more sophisticated today,” said Van den Oever. “The consumer’s purchase journey has evolved to become extremely complex—so it is extremely vital that players in the travel sector understand the process and be in the right place with their message to secure the deal.”
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