Search Engines Role in Travel Purchases

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Over the last decade business Internet usage has grown rapidly. If your business doesn’t have an online presence then you are missing out on a prosperous market. However, having a website is not always enough. You need to ensure that your website can be easily found by your customers. Search is the first point of online research for 93% of consumers; therefore, it is crucial for your website to rank on the top search engine result pages.

A recent study by Google and Neilsen shows that 70% of consumers who purchase a product online usesearch engines at least once. For consumers of travel that number rises to 92% using  search engines at least once before making a purchase.

Travel consumers tend to use search engines often as a source of information. On average they use search engines 20 times – researching recommendations, reviews, destinations, maps, ways of travel and comparing packages – before their research leads to making a purchase.

The illustration below portrays the 28-day user behaviour of a travel consumer. This consumer has initially researched “Corfu holidays” on Google search. The consumer used Google several times during the research journey before finally making the decision to book a holiday.

Illustrtaion of a Travel user journey online

Google and Neilsen Research (2012)

The chart below illustrates how travel consumers continue to consult a wide range of sources including search engines during the time spent online just prior to booking.

Illustration: Travel user decision making journey

Google and Neilsen Research (2012)

The Google and Nielson study also shows that travel consumers use both generic and brand terms when researching their travel plans. 13% of consumers used generic terms only, 10% used brand terms only and 77% used both generic and brand terms during their research period.

It is evident that a search engine is the first place consumers will look for travel information which will help them to make a purchase. Therefore, if you own a travel business or are looking to promote a destination or travel related product, your website has to be accessible and visible to your consumers. The only proven way to achieve this is through developing a search engine optimisation strategy to ensure that your website reaches the relevant consumers.

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