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Booking Patterns of UK Travelers: Where, When, What, Why

Posted November 21, 2016


Where are travelers booking travel? When is travel booked? What type of booking options are preferred? Why do travelers prefer different approaches?

WEX conducted a survey of UK consumers to understand consumer preferences when booking travel and what influences the choices made.

Booking Online vs Offline

Our research found that while most consumers now book travel online, 17% still choose to book offline.

Women are slightly more likely to book offline than men (19% of women compared to 15% of men). It may not come as much surprise that older consumers (those aged 55+) are more likely to book offline than any other group with almost one quarter preferring this option. Those aged 25-34 are least likely to book offline with 87% booking online.

On a regional level consumers from London are most likely to book travel online, whereas consumers from Yorkshire are most likely to book offline.

When asked why they prefer to book online or offline, for both methods consumers gave convenience, trust and price as top reasons. Beyond this, consumers who prefer to book online do so as they believe it gives them access to flexible options, makes it easier to customise plans and they trust certain websites to handle their booking. Those who prefer to book offline value the personalised face-to-face service and expert knowledge received.

View our infographic for more insight into online vs offline travel bookings

Type of Website

Much is made of the competition between online travel agencies (OTAs) and direct bookings with hotels and airlines; our research shows that the numbers of consumers who prefer to book with one or the other is very close. 42% of consumers prefer to book with OTAs compared to 36% who prefer to book direct with hotels and airlines.

Convenience, price and quality of service were given as reason for booking with both OTAs and direct with hotels and airlines. Other reasons given for booking with OTAs were the level of protection offered should something go wrong and the availability of package deals. Meanwhile additional reasons given for booking direct with hotels and airlines were the availability of loyalty points and offers and the ease of dealing directly with a trusted brand.

View our infographic for more insight into consumer website preferences

Package or DIY Holidays

Consumers are split between whether they prefer package holidays or taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach of buying each component of a holiday separately:

  • 38% prefer packages
  • 30% choose a DIY approach
  • 32% switch between the two depending on the requirements of a particular trip

Younger travelers, aged 18-24 years old, are most likely to prefer the DIY approach. Whereas those aged 35-44 are most likely to choose a package break, perhaps opting for the easy option amidst family and work commitments.

The top reasons given for choosing package holidays were the convenience of having 1 booking, protection often offered from booking this way, savings available and the ease of dealing with just 1 company.

By comparison, the main reasons given for choosing the DIY approach were getting the exact trip desired, the convenience and flexibility of choosing each element specifically and savings made from going to the cheapest provider for each part of the trip.

View our infographic for more insight into why consumers opt for packages or take the DIY approach

The 3 ‘C’s of Winning Travel Bookings

Our research highlighted 3 key factors which influence where, when and the type of travel consumers book: Convenience, Cost and Confidence. Travel companies who are able to successfully offer convenience in service and travel options at the right cost, while building confidence amongst consumers, have the ingredients to win travel bookings.

Our whitepaper, The 3 ‘C’s of Winning Travel Bookings: Convenience, Cost and Confidence, presents key booking trends in the UK travel market to show the role that these 3 factors play in where and when consumers book. It explores how your supplier payment solution is central to helping you increase convenience, keep prices competitive and build confidence.

Download the whitepaper here

What you will learn

Essential reading for anyone operating within the travel industry, the whitepaper gives direct insight both into where and when travel is booked and the key drivers behind these decisions. It answers these questions and more:

  • When is the most popular time to book in advance of traveling for consumers?
  • Why do consumers book at this time?
  • What is the biggest influence on where consumers book travel?
  • Which type of website do consumers prefer to book with?
  • Why do consumers favor one type of website?

Download the whitepaper today to learn how to win customer bookings with the right supplier payment solution.

1,010 UK consumers surveyed by WEX in May 2016


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