Family walking on the beach

Research Study Sheds Light on Changing Travel-purchase Preferences


Each year, our travel and tourism marketing team conducts an in-depth research study to better understand how leisure travelers plan, choose and book their hotels when going on vacation. Conducted annually over the past five (5) years, the study not only looks to identify macro trends, but also delves into micro shifts that could be precursors to more significant changes in the future.

The questions and the study results are specifically intended to help those responsible for marketing hotels improve their ROI and, more importantly, improve the guest experience. Gaining a better understanding of the the planning and booking process allows us to hone in on key touchpoints in the travel-purchase journey in order to positively influence conversion rates, occupancy, ADR and RevPAR.

In this year’s study (which was fielded prior to the coronavirus outbreak), we received responses from over 3,000 leisure travelers. The full report can be downloaded here.

Results from the study reveal that several important metrics remained basically unchanged from last year’s study, including:

  • Women still make the majority of travel plans — with 32.6% saying that they solely make the travel plans, and 43.2% saying they make the plans with their spouse/significant other.
  • Repeating last year’s result, the most popular booking window indicated was “Two Months Out.” However, “One Month Out” showed significant gains in this year’s study.
  • On average, it takes 26 days of planning from start to actual booking of the room.
  • Consumers who book online and over the phone use search engines significantly more than any other tool to begin their planning process.
  • Most travelers use Online Travel Agency sites like Expedia and Travelocity to shop availability and price, and then book directly with the hotel.
  • 23.5% of respondents still use the phone to book their hotel rooms.

Areas where we see significant changes or where new trends are emerging include:

  • Many Millennials are now parents, and as they grow up, they are starting to look and behave more like their older counterparts.
  • More and more travelers want to travel with their pets!
  • More and more, travelers are inspired to travel through discussions with family and friends. Empowering your guests to share their experiences has never been more important.
  • The under-35 crowd is two times more likely to use Airbnb.
  • While our study shows that leisure travelers look at a lot of websites prior to booking, it is not the 20 that Google claims, but rather 5.2.
  • 79% read reviews online before they booked, and while TripAdvisor is still the king of travel-related reviews, 95.1% of travelers believe reviews on hotel websites.
  • Facebook is growing in importance, with 39.4% of respondents looking at the hotel’s Facebook page prior to booking.
  • Travelers are becoming more and more comfortable with hotel-specific apps that offer conveniences such as mobile check-in and keyless entry.

The results throughout the study compare data from this year’s results to those of prior years. For a full copy of the study, click here.