In the US and Europe, the leading online travel intermediaries have taken market share from their offline counterparts. At the same time, an increase in direct sales through travel supplier's own websites has also affected the traditional agency business.
The need to balance direct and indirect channels, demand for lower cost distribution and the growth in popularity of comparison shopping are all factors driving the business model for travel specific search engines globally.
It is interesting to note that the online travel market is divided into two segments: leisure/unmanaged business travel and managed business travel (also known as corporate travel). The online booking behavior of unmanaged business travelers is indistinguishable from leisure travelers. Employees of the millions of small- and medium-sized corporations use the same websites as leisure travelers to book their business travel. Thus these two groups of buyers are treated as one customer segment.
Study Method: It is a quantitative research based on online consumer surveys, executive surveys and market forecast models to provide essential analysis of consumer trends and marketing best practices, including customer segmentation and cross-selling strategies.
Study Findings: The needs of travelers vary widely from one generation segment to another although many travel marketers are unable to plan for the specific promotional strategies to meet the distinct needs of the different generations. Among the biggest generational differences in online behavior are:
Young Travelers are an online agency's best friend:
Consumers of age group 18-24 spend more time on agency sites than any other generations and they have attraction for the flashy marketing campaigns of online agencies.
77% of 18-24 year old travelers use more than one agency sites. The average traveler in this age group will visit 1.7 agency sites, the highest of any generational segment.
From the above graph we can clearly observe that there is an increasing trend of the younger travelers for visiting online travel agencies than the older ones.
Seniors prefer booking directly:
Seniors (65+) overwhelmingly favor bookings flights and hotels directly on supplier sites that offer low-rate guarantees and other perks
Nearly 80% of the flights booked online by this generation are made at carrier sites, and 68% of hotel bookings are placed directly at chain sites, compared to lows of 72% and 58% for 25-34 years old
Baby Boomers have an appetite for content:
Baby Boomers (45-64) view the travel contents online for comparison when in-market for a trip.
40% of the content viewed is at online travel agencies, giving aggregators an advantage in influencing this segment as they research online.
Study Implication: The travel companies must do the effective market research to improve online strategies to profit from this growing channel and increase the substantial share of the travel revenue.
Personal Reflection: Online Travel marketers should develop contents, services, and promotions targeting specific age groups that will be ideally positioned to manage their online distribution strategies