5 stages of travel according to Google – research, data and stats

Google reports in its 5 stages of travel:

More than 87% of travelers expect to take the same or more number of personal or business trips in 2011 versus years past. This outlook is positive, and with the rise of mobile, social and video behaviors, we are now seeing seeing travelers move through five key stages of travel. Here are some insights within each stage:

  • Dreaming: 68% of business travelers watch travel-related online videos. Among them, 68% are thinking about a trip.
  • Planning: The average traveler visits ~22 travel related sites during 9.5 research sessions prior to booking.  85% of leisure travelers consider the internet their main source of travel planning.
  • Booking: 37% of leisure travelers report that the internet prompted them to book, up from 28% two years ago.  53% of travelers plan to increase comparison shopping this year.
  • Experiencing: 70% of business travelers check into their flights/hotel with their mobile device. Almost 1 in 4 hotel queries come from a mobile phone.  Over 50% of travelers use mobile phone or device for travel-related information.
  • Sharing: About 1 in 3 business travelers have posted reviews online of places they’ve been.

Travel Stats from Google’s new thinkinsights

Google has a new portal for users to discover interesting stats: thinginsights

I discovered this there:

  • 62% of personal travelers use search engines as the number one source for travel information. Google/OTX, Traveler’s Road to Decision 2010, U.S, Sept 2010

  • 51% of business travelers use mobile devices to get travel information, more than double the rate of two years ago. Google/OTX, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011

  • 46% of personal travelers are watching travel-related videos, versus 36% two years ago. Google/OTX, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011

Adwords Stats (non-travel)

  • Over 89% of traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic search results when ads are paused. Google, Search Ads Pause Study, Global, Jul 2011

  • Two-line sitelinks increase click-through rates by more than 30%*. Google Internal Data 2011, *Compared to standard Adwords ads

Video ads can help your Brand Search:

  • Consumers exposed to a YouTube homepage ad are 437% more likely to engage in a key brand activity on the same day than those unexposed.

Affluent Households Drive Travel Trade

Travel Weekly reports that:

  • Americans with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more are not only twice as likely as others to make entertainment and leisure purchases, and more than three times more likely to spend more.
  • Effectively, 50% to 60% of all expenditures in the travel world come from these people.
  • 65% of affluent Americans, who account for just 21% of the population, have a passport, compared with about 37% of all Americans.
  • Seventy-six percent of those surveyed planned to take a vacation this year.
  • In the last year, 83% of survey respondents took a trip of any sort, spending an average of $2,849 per journey, and 55% stayed at hotels with ratings of four or more stars.

Disconnect between Travel Sites and Facebook Users

It appears that Travel Sites don’t do that well in Facebook according to EyeForTravel’s article Are Facebook and Travel a Good Match?  Travel appears to be under indexing in Facebook interaction relative to other categories.

Travel sites received .3% of referrals from Facebook (in other words, Facebook sent 3.4B visits to website and only 8.3M to travel sites).

Likewise, Travel sites are sending a decreasing amount of their visitors to Facebook:

While the research shows a positive correlation between visits to Facebook brand pages and conversion, they also show a minimal overlap between brand’s Facebook pages and the same brand’s website: <10%



Mobile Click-Throughs Higher, Conversion Lower

Travolution reports that click-through rates for travel searches on mobile devices are 61% higher than from conventional internet connections.  the research came from Efficient Frontier.

  • On average for the travel industry, click-through rates from a mobile device are 5.82%, compared to 3.56% from a normal computer based search.
  • For the travel industry, mobile search remains small, with just 4.2% of total searches.
  • The Cost Per Click (CPC) of mobile traffic is also 65% less than a standard computer search.

However the picture is markedly different for conversion rates on mobile, which were found to be 49% lower than from fixed-line computers.

Booking Window Patterns From Mobile Users – Tonite and Tomorrow

Dennis Schaal at Tnooz shares a gem of booking data on the mobile booking window, based upon a GuestCentric study of mobile booking patterns at 300 hotels over a three month period:

  • 60% of mobile consumers are looking for hotel reservations tonight or tomorrow night;
  • 90% of mobile bookings take in some of the next six nights (i.e. tonight, tomorrow night or the following four nights);
  • 90% of mobile consumers book one to three nights; and
  • 95% of mobile consumers book one room.

Stats from Google on Travel and Online Travel Research

The following stats were shared by Haley Knowlton Gribben, an Adwords Account Manager from Google. She presented at the Vacation Rental Manager Association’s Annual Conference on October 10th in Orlando.

It was a fast-paced and informative presentation. Thanks Haley.  These are my hastily scribbled notes:

Vacation Rental Search Becomes More Popular:

  • 42% Year to Year growth for popular vacation rental queries at Google.com
  • 34% growth in overall travel terms

10.2 sources being used by travellers in 2011 for their travel decision making process

  • 27% read email from a travel company
  • 85% searched with a search engine
  • 49% searched online hotel reviews
  • 37% read online travel reviews
  • 25% read online comments

Travel Purchase Timeframe and Planning Window: Most travellers began thinking about the travel purchase at least one month before taking their trip.

  • 8% 4-6 months before
  • 24% 2-3 months before
  • 21% 1 month before
  • 10% 3 weeks before

Affluent Travelers:

  • 80% of affluent travelers actually comparison shop “always or frequently”
  • This is more than personal or business segment travelers
  • The amount spent on the travel positively correlates with amount of research
  • “Research intensity increases with travel spend” Read more

Snippets from OpenTravel Presentation

Robert Cole reports dozens of interesting datapoints in Snippets and Factoids from Henry Harteveldt’s OpenTravel Presentation.  Here are a few of my favorite:


  • 40% of travelers are seeking the lowest price
  • “We (Forrester) have never seen a profitable Groupon deal for a travel supplier”
  • 44% of travelers will consider upgrading to better products
  • 25% of travelers are willing to pay a premium to save time or improve convenience


  • “Travel is the largest global online eCommerce category except for porn”


  • Mobile devices have more computing power than Apollo 11
  • 35% of leisure travelers and 55% of business travelers use smartphones
  • 10% of travelers have downloaded a mobile travel app


  • 60% of travelers use a general search engine when planning travel
  • Travel sellers must craft “story-arcs” a combination of micro journeys within a single trip

Direct Connect

  • Survey of electronic distribution executives predicts share of GDS bookings will decline from 21.7 % in 2010 to 15.5% in 2016

Visit the blog post to see many more.