Digital Domination of the Travel Industry

Estimated Reading Time 6 minutes

This post takes a look at the digital travel trends that all travel companies and associated providers should be aware of. Though it is no great surprise that ‘digital’ in all its various formats is important, this piece also highlights how people interact across devices and the destinations most searched for online.

An important purchase

Interestingly 60% of consumers say that travel is their largest discretionary purchase, ahead of home improvements, financial investments or health focussed products (Think with Google).

Mobile and Multi-device

Furthermore, 60% of travel searches start on a mobile device, with a huge 83% of “best time to visit” and 68% of flight searches originating on mobile. That said, 94% of leisure travellers switch between devices as they plan or book a trip.

This may be motivated by consumers feeling that they don’t have access to all providers and therefore the best prices via their mobile. The continuous switch between devices can often be spread over an extended period involving several digital touchpoints from Google searches to different flight, accommodation, tour and car providers. (econsultancy & Think With Google).

76% of U.K.’s travel bookings took place online, followed by the phone (21%) and in person (19%)

Source: ABTA

Google refer to the customer journey comprising of real time micro-moments, made up of intent driven opportunities for brands to jump to the consumer’s attention at any given time wherever they may be.


Interestingly, these micro-moments on mobile devices often result in spontaneous booking behaviour with 30% of people booking a trip they hadn’t planned and 25% choosing a destination they are not familiar with (Think with Google).

Example online path to travel purchase

Travel path to purchase

Surprisingly, 85% of activities are researched once consumers reach their destination and not before, with 50% of these travellers using their smartphone to explore their options (Think with Google and Travhq).

This makes it vital that all providers have a mobile marketing strategy to attract potential customers. Google have recognised this trend and met it with their Google Trips app, providing a mobile resource wherever in the world you may be.

The rise in domestic holidays

During 2016 the most frequent holidays taken were city breaks, followed by beach holidays and countryside breaks, with these trends predicted to remain during 2017.

The U.K. saw a rise in average holidays per person, largely driven by the rise in domestic travel. Bing, Yahoo and AOL research states that search volume for short breaks remains beyond January well into April, likely due to the Spring bank holidays.

Generic short break searches were most likely to be conducted by females aged 50-64, and while females dominate short break searches across all types of break (spa, destination, activity etc.), the age range of these individuals by activity differs greatly. Are you reaching the full spectrum of your target audience? According to Bing, Yahoo and AOL the top searched keywords from January to April 2016 were; “London theatre breaks”, “city breaks”, spa breaks and “cheap weekend breaks”, while the top trending domestic and international destinations in November 2016 are shown below:

Most searched travel destinations

Capturing the short break market opportunity

It’s not too late to capitalise on the surge of short break searches between now and April. Below is a checklist to consider in order to maximise your return from this period:

  • Add call extensions to any paid advertising online
  • Ensure your budget can accommodate this prolonged period of searches or risk missing out
  • Launch/optimise mobile strategies to take advantage of micro-moments
  • Re-evaluate your audience profile and be sure that you’re not missing any of your key demographics online
  • Invest in video content to help you stand out from the crowd
  • Push top trending destinations and grab your market share
  • Engage with social influencers to raise your brand’s profile within your target audience
  • Become more lifestyle focused in your approach by evoking concepts of adventure and exploration

If you are serious about growing your travel business online, please talk to our team on +44 1483 338 270 or email:

Reggie James
Having built and sold various technology businesses over the years, Reggie heads the consultancy and commercial side of the business. Approachable and pragmatic, Reggie previously ran the first dot-com to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange as well as developing business strategies for brands whilst at AltaVista and Yahoo! before launching Digital Clarity. As a passive investor, he is also involved in the US public OTC markets.