Online VS Offline Purchase Patterns

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In a recent report, Google ventured outside of their current online domain and did a study to compare online travel purchase patterns to offline travel purchase patterns. The number of similarities between the two types of buyers provides compelling information that every tourism business owner should know.

Getting right to one of the most amazing facts derived from the study: 90% of both online bookers and offline bookers do their research online. You read that right, 90% of travellers do their research online before booking whether they purchase online or walk into an agency to book in person. Understanding the full value of a travel business's online presence has never been demonstrated so definitively.

Research starts on average 70 days prior to purchase. Both types of buyers use search engines to do most of their research. Naturally, the time spent searching and number of sites visited do vary, as these averages below demonstrate.

Online Buyers:

  • Number of search sessions - 16.7
  • Overall time spent - 129 minutes
  • Number of sites visited - 32.5

Offline Buyers:

  • Number of search sessions - 11.9
  • Overall time spent - 94 minutes
  • Number of sites visited - 22.5

Offline Bookers

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Google's Sun, Sea, Sand and Search Report Oct 2013

Looking at the demographic differences between the two types of bookers;

  • 42% of the online bookers are under the age of 34 whereas,
  • 85% of offline buyers are over 34 with nearly half (48%) having children and being retired (48%).

Travel agents are still the preferred channel for offline bookers seeking packaged tours. No real surprises in those numbers. But what is most surprising is that travel research on mobile phones is growing 66% year on year. Google claims this to be the number one take away from the study; "More than ever, travel related businesses need to be accessible on whatever screens consumers are using".

Online Bookersblog1

Google's Sun, Sea, Sand and Search Report Oct 2013

As a tourism supplier, whether your model depends on agency business or you desire more direct bookings, understanding the impact that your online presence, especially on a mobile device has to ALL potential customers is vital to the growth of your business.

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