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Generational Travel Behavior Shifts

Expedia Study Reveals Consumers Prefer Booking On One Site

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
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By Keith Loria

U.S. consumers, regardless of what generation they fall into, prefer booking their travel and hotel accommodations on one website, versus booking each travel item separately.

This was the major finding of a new multi-generational travel study released by Expedia in partnership with The Center for Generational Kinetics, which looked at consumer behavior and travel preferences of American adults ranging from Generation Z to Baby Boomers.

"The study reveals that consumers, in ever-increasing numbers, value travel. This bodes well for the industry, as the youngest demographic-one with strong purchasing power now and in the years ahead-is seeking experiences over possessions," said Abhijit Pal, Expedia's head of research, global partner group. "Over 80% of each generation studied prefers booking travel and hotel on one site, and this need for speed and convenience increases as the age of the audience decreases."

The data, collected from 1,254 U.S. respondents ages 18-65, also revealed several key insights that those in the travel space need to keep an eye on.

"People prefer to acquire experiences not things, and this bodes well for the industry," said Pal. "With technology pervading every aspect of our lives, it is no surprise that consumers of all ages want technology to make travel easier, and even more streamlined."

This speaks to the findings that show nearly 50% of millennials say that visiting an OTA is how they prefer to book room and travel, and that 80% of each generation studied preferred to book travel and hotel on one site versus booking separately.

The survey proves that travelers of all ages-not just Gen Z digital natives-prefer to book through online travel agencies, as 55% of travelers said they would consider, and 15% would definitely book an entire trip, through an OTA without visiting any other websites. In fact, half of Gen Z and 48% of Millennials say visiting an OTA website is how they prefer to book transportation and accommodations.

"There is an assumption that younger travelers prefer to book through an OTA, but we found that overwhelmingly all travelers prefer the seamless process, options and convenience provided by online travel agencies," said Pal. "In addition, younger travelers trust online agencies to have the variety of choice and tech simplicity that enables them to spend less time booking and more time experiencing the journey."

A large 87% of Gen Z respondents also said that they find booking travel all in one place extremely helpful, which speaks to the power of travel packages.

The report illustrated a shift in consumer purchasing intent from products to experiences, which signals a promising road ahead for the travel industry.

"Furthermore, younger travelers trust OTAs to have a breadth of choice, technological simplicity and savings that help satisfy their increasing appetite for travel," said Pal. "This proves that the American's thirst for travel and adventure isn't subsiding anytime soon, especially if the younger generations have anything to say about it."

Nearly 20% of Gen-Z respondents in the survey said they have stayed at a specific hotel or destination in order to score a positive response from followers on posts on their own social media channels.

"We were also interested to see the power that social media plays in inspiring Gen Z, with 36% sharing that they chose a travel destination because they saw it on social media," said Pal. "This insight is a great reminder for destinations and properties to encourage social sharing and elevate their social media presence and platforms as part of a multi-channel strategy."

That means incorporating photos and posts of sunsets, zip lines, local culture and other things that will attract vacation travelers to a hotel or destination.

"Social media is huge when it comes to sharing travel and travel experiences," said Pal. "We tend to think of mouth-watering photography to share foodie love, but Gen Z finds those stunning photographs on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are often the impetus to book a trip. In fact, 36% say that they chose a destination because they saw it on social media."

Gen-Z and Millennials (22-35) are shown to be focusing their purchases on travel and 65% are currently saving for travel this year, according to data in the survey. Travel-obsessed millennials, meanwhile, are extremely independent, with one in every four millennials having traveled alone on a leisure trip in the past year.

"Younger generations tend to want to impress their peers, along with seeking adventure travel and relaxation experiences," Pal said. "In fact, 11% have postponed a breakup due to a previously planned trip with their partner and 71% of Gen-Z respondents said they would get a part-time job just to save up for a leisure trip."

Expedia is already using the research collected to better position itself for 2018.

"We are a test and learn culture. We constantly launch new tools and products to power the travel industry and deliver what travelers and our partners want," Pal said. "We will continue to elevate our tech features-from voice to AI-to bring new ways of streamlining the booking process and better connect with guests, and the insights gleaned from this study will help inform future innovations."

Understanding data also allows the company to deliver the best products and services to help its hotel partners do what they do best, Pal noted-delivering an amazing guest experience.

"The data shows that consumers prefer booking all travel and hotel on one site, especially Gen Z, which is great news for our partners," he said. "Our white-label package solutions provide hotels with another great way to deliver an all-in-one solution, while also capturing more bookings, revenue and enhancing the overall guest experience."
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