Global travel market research giant Phocuswright recently published an analysis on the US Experiences sector. It’s a comprehensive report with 32 pages of research and 28 data-packed charts. We’ve combed through it all and pulled out some of the most important takeaways.
The Active Traveler
The report’s primary finding was “the active traveler” persona. Travel is an important part of their lives: they take more trips per year, spending more on travel than other travel archetypes, and they want to see as much of the world as possible.
More than one third of active travelers start researching activities before booking any other elements of their trip. These travelers also want it all: they’re looking to experience both unique activities and the “classic” tourist experiences during their trip.
72% of active travelers check multiple sites to make sure they’re getting the best price, but they also want help. More than half want proactive, tailored activity recommendations that take past browsing and purchasing behavior into account.
Top experience goals for these active travelers are relaxation (25%) and adventure (20%). Most travelers prefer to explore on their own. Only one in five traveled as a part of an organized tour on their last trip, and organized tour guests kept groups small.
The Growth of Online Bookings
Travel activities account for 8% of U.S. gross travel bookings—that puts this segment of the travel market firmly third in size, behind only hotels and flights.
The tours, attractions and activities space is witnessing a rapid offline-to-mobile shift, rather than the offline-online-mobile that other areas have experienced. “Online” and “mobile” will become increasingly synonymous.
38% of respondents prefer to have everything booked before they head out on their trip. Listing your tours and activities online is a great way to capture these travelers.
37% of surveyed suppliers without a reservation system said their business isn’t big enough to warrant one. But they risk being left behind in a marketplace where travelers are increasingly expecting to book online instantly.
Over half of surveyed suppliers said that price and ease of use were the most important factors influencing their purchase of a third-party reservation system.
4 out of 5 respondents of Phocuswright’s supplier survey already use a third-party reservation system. But there’s opportunity for significant shift here with more than one third of suppliers changing their reservation system after just 1-2 years.
Traveler Booking Behavior
Advance bookings are on the rise, with 38% of travelers preferring to have everything booked before they travel. Travelers are comfortable booking online and are ready for an end-to-end mobile experience. Take advantage of this growing trend by preparing your business to handle these types of bookings.
Travelers don’t just research before they go on a trip. They are doing their homework in the planning stages and even when they’re already in-destination—highlighting the importance of offering last-minute bookings. Online activity research is heavily dependent on search engines with 47% shopping on general search engines and 27% on travel review sites.