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Around the World in Travel Trends: International Booking Preferences

Posted November 2, 2016


It’s important for travel industry organizations to be aware of the differences in culture, technology adoption, access to services, demographics, geography and more across the markets they serve. These insights are critical for effective marketing and product and service delivery, and ultimately, impact the bottom line and competitive resiliency. There are no shortage of research studies going on at any given time—in any segment of the market, from hotels to airline to technology—to help uncover what makes customers in various geographic markets ‘”tick”. We’ve rounded up some of this research to demonstrate the nuances between consumer markets.

So Many Ways to Book

When it comes to booking, customers around the world generally have access to traditional bricks-and-mortar travel agencies (and their websites), pure-play online travel agencies (OTAs) such as, metasearch sites like, brand sites such as, as well as a range of “deal,” collective booking and private sale websites. (Explore these further at 7 Most Popular Types of Travel Booking Websites of 2013 on

A leisure traveler doesn’t usually start their process by booking, however. They look for destination inspiration, consult with family and friends, compare prices and research their options before handing over their credit card information. And today, more and more consumers do at least some of these activities online. It’s a market-by-market “dance” for international travel agencies. Understanding how, where and at what point in the travel planning process consumers in a specific market need particular services (e.g. personal or self-service support) is key to informing their strategies and winning their business.

Let’s take off!

First Stop: China—the Travel App

Global media commerce company Travel Zoo conducted a survey of 6,000 of its members across Asia, Europe and North America to determine how consumers in different markets research and book holidays. The findings show that for digitally savvy Chinese leisure travelers, it’s all about travel apps:

  • Over 85% of Chinese members say the use of travel apps as the easiest way to book a holiday and over 70% say they plan to book flights, cruises, package holidays and hotels via apps
  • Difficulty viewing the holiday information on websites or apps via smartphone is a top concern for only 9% of Chinese respondents (their top concern is payment security, at 36%)
  • In China, platforms like WeChat are becoming more influential than emails
  • Respondents in China say review sites have the most influence on their final booking decision

Learn more about China in The Future of the Chinese Online Travel Market.

Next Stop: United States—A Close Race

Here is some recent research from MMGY Global into US travelers’ booking preferences:

  • 32% prefer to book travel on travel service provider sites; in a close second, 31% prefer to book on OTA sites
  • 21% turn to OTAs for inspiration online, while 18% get inspired on travel service provider sites
  • As for airfare, half of all travelers who flew to their vacation destinations during the past 12 months typically booked their flights through an airline website or app, while only 1/3 used an OTA website or app.
  • And for accommodations, 40% of travelers now typically book accommodations through a hotel website or app, while only 1/3 booked through an OTA website or app.

Up to Canada—Covering All the Bases reported on a poll showing that:

  • 56% of Canadians make their own travel arrangements online
  • 19% use travel agents
  • 12% book over the phone

Think with Google provides additional statistics based on their research:

  • 69% of Canadians visit travel sites monthly—and over half do so on a mobile device
  • 88% of Canadian travelers researched their last personal trip online

Down to Latin America--

According to 2014 Amadeus research that’s explored on, the regional adoption of technology for travel reservations is still in its infancy. Yet the internet is proving to be a convenient tool for planning leisure travel:

  • 48% of Latin American travellers aged between 25 and 49 look for new experiences using technology.
  • Tour operator sales on regional websites represented 13% of the total; 14% for airlines and 12% for accommodations
  • The countries with the greatest percentage of (estimated) increase (+5% YOY) in leisure travel areUruguay 3%, Brazil 10.6%, Ecuador 9.3% and Colombia 6.8%

Next Stop: the UK—Tapping into Online Resources

eRevMax unveiled numerous statistics in their UK Online Travel Trends 2016 report. Here are some highlights demonstrating the market’s hearty adoption of technology for aiding in travel planning:

  • Mobile booking is 3x higher for OTAs over brand website for hotel bookings
  • 65% of same day hotel reservations made via a smartphone
  • 28% of online hotel bookings to come from mobile in 2016
  • 54% of mobile bookings are made in-app
  • 59% of UK travelers are influenced by online review sites for hotel bookings
  • 2/3 of holiday makers research destinations online
  • 65% use metasearch to compare prices

Across the Channel to France—Travel Agencies Trumps Mobile

Citing results from a CCM Benchmark report, eMarketer shares that of the 1,200 French internet users ages 18 and older surveyed:

  • 80% had booked travel on their computers before departing
  • Just 5% of respondents had booked travel to their destination via smartphone—and just 5% via tablet
  • 15% said they booked at a travel agency or other location

With respect to hotels and other accommodations, specifically:

  • 78% said they had made reservations via PC prior to departure
  • Only 7% booked via smartphone—and only 6% used a tablet
  • 15% said they booked at a travel agency or other location

For additional insights, take a look at the Trends Surrounding European Travel [Infographic].

The tour is over for now, but stay tuned to travel to more destinations and learn about consumers’ leisure travel preferences and uptake of travel technology.


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