More than two thirds of travellers use online review sites, but word of mouth is still ‘very important’ for half of travellers

The recently published ‘Consumer Travel Insights 2019’ report series from benchmarking specialist STR has revealed several key findings regarding traveller motivations and budgeting, emphasis on online-travel-agency (OTA) services, and use of rental platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

The five-report series, compiled by STR’s Tourism Consumer Insights team, examines each stage of the traveller journey – planning, booking, budgeting and how technology and travel brands interact with travelling.

It is based on independent research that was conducted in October 2018 using STR’s Traveller Panel – a community of approximately 28,000 engaged travellers from across the globe. Overall, 2,228 panellists took part in the research and were asked about their behaviour and experiences regarding their most recent international holiday.

“The rapid advent of new technologies and the continuous shifting of consumer perceptions pose both opportunities and challenges for the travel and tourism sector. Be it examining the role of exchange rates on holiday choices or the usage of OTAs or views on over-tourism,” says Sean Morgan, STR’s director of research.

This reports series identifies key traveller trends and provides actionable intelligence for tourism professionals. Key findings included:

  • 69% of travellers used online review sites. TripAdvisor was a particularly popular planning resource used by 40% of travellers. However, word of mouth was still very important with 51% of travellers using personal recommendations to help plan their trip.
  • Of those who booked their holiday through an OTA, 55% used the service because it enabled comparison of multiple accommodation options. Only 29% of travellers utilised the service because it offered the best deal.
  • Perceptions of value for money heavily influenced accommodation decisions. This finding was especially pronounced among millennial travellers, as 77% chose their accommodation because it offered value for money.
  • 52% of travellers set a budget for their most recent trip, but 29% of budgetters overspent their allotted amount.
  • 41% of travellers have at some point used Airbnb, with 92% being aware of the property sharing service. These results indicate that Airbnb usage is greater than awareness of its next-closest home-sharing competitor – HomeAway was used by 9% of travellers and 35% were aware of the platform.