According to a survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), half of consumers in Great Britain aged 16 or older researched travel via digital channels in March 2013. During the past five years, that figure has fluctuated between 44% and 52%, according to the ONS, suggesting relative maturity in the market.
Men and women were equally likely to use the internet to look for travel-related services and accommodations, while the 25-to-34 age group showed the greatest propensity for digital travel research, at 65%. These young adults are digitally savvy enough to appreciate the discounts and convenience of online travel research, but also old enough to be able to afford to make their own travel plans. More than half of those between 35 to 64 years old also looked for travel info on the web.
Among respondents who had actually made travel purchases on the web, there was a near-equal likelihood of purchasing travel accommodations online as purchasing any other travel services. One-third said they had made holiday accommodation reservations on the web and 32% had made other travel purchases online. The likelihood of making travel purchases online was approximately equal for those between 25 and 34 years old as for those between 35 and 44 years old.
A study by Experian Marketing Services from July 2013 found that Google Maps UK was the top travel site in the country visited by UK web users, accounting for just over 10% of market share of visits. That was followed by TripAdvisor UK, which held 6.38% market share. Booking.com, National Rail Enquiries and Thomson Holidays rounded out the top five sites.
eMarketer estimates that 64.5% of web users in the UK will research travel digitally this year, and 58% will actually book. Growth in the number of travel lookers and bookers is expected to remain in the low single digits in upcoming years.