Lucidworks, a leading search solutions provider, surveyed consumers in the U.S. and U.K. who travel for leisure at least once a year to understand how brand loyalty, budget and booking options influence vacation planning.
The survey revealed a travelscape of cost-conscious bookers, many who are looking to aggregate sites for booking, despite claiming loyalties to hotel groups, airlines and cruise lines. The search bar reigns supreme in the digital experience and travelers look to book accommodations and activities on as few sites as possible.
Travelers would abandon brand loyalty for $100 savings
When asked for the most common reason they’d book outside of loyalty, 58% of respondents named price. The majority of travelers said that as little as a $100 price difference between their loyalty brand and another brand would drive them to book with the other brand. Even the majority of people who said their travel persona was “Lover of Luxury” will still book outside of loyalty if the price difference reaches $100.
Nearly 20% of respondents drew a hard line and said cost rules all and would never book the more expensive, brand-loyal option. The survey revealed that brand familiarity and the ability to earn points are the two most common reasons that travelers would consider a slightly more expensive, brand-loyal choice.
Aggregate booking sites are edging out brand sites
The survey revealed that 56% of travelers prefer the simplicity of booking everything on as few sites as possible (ie, restaurants, hotels, activities, flights, rental car, etc). People booking flights and cruises were evenly split in their preference for using an aggregate site versus going directly to a brand’s website. Hotel room bookers were slightly skewed towards booking on a site like Expedia or Kayak, with 53% preferring to book on an aggregate site.
Knowing what to book is only half the battle. A lack of recommendations for additional activities was one of the most common frustrations of the booking experience for 24% of respondents. Aggregate reviews sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp were respondents’ favorite resource for research and booking.
Search is the most-used feature on travel and hospitality websites
Sites should be tracking which parts of the site users are navigating to and measuring the performance to prioritize improvements in the digital experience. The survey revealed that the most commonly used feature on a travel and hospitality website is the search bar. Sixty-seven percent say they use the search box when browsing and booking. Unfortunately, a third of respondents said that bad search results are one of the most common reasons they get frustrated with the online booking experience.
However, if problems pop up during the trip, consumers will still opt for human contact over digital support. Time sensitive issues have more customers reaching for the phone—49% pick up the phone and call customer service when a problem arises. This is a signal that brands need to connect all channels to support their customers as effectively as possible.
Other key findings in the survey:
- Loyalty was stronger among respondents between 18 and 34 years old. The majority identified airlines that they were loyal to, with only about 20% saying that they’re not loyal to any airline compared to more than a third of respondents aged 34 and up.
- Travelers are more than three times as likely to opt for a hotel room when traveling versus an Airbnb or VRBO, with the biggest draw being the hotel’s amenities, including room service, housekeeping, on-site dining, etc.
- Nearly 45% of travelers enjoy doing their own research around the web and booking across multiple sites so they can personally tailor every option and price point.
- More than half of survey respondents say the most common reason they get frustrated with online booking is hitting a dead-end when availability doesn’t fit, and a website doesn’t offer additional recommendations.
The survey was conducted in June of this year and was limited to respondents who travel for leisure at least once a year. Respondents are located in the U.S. and U.K.