A 2017 study released by Expedia Media Solutions has revealed the different ways European travellers plan, book, and experience trips, with insights collected on British, German, and French travellers.
The report looks closely at the habits of these European travellers to give hoteliers a broad snapshot of potential markets, and it’s interesting to see how much preferences differed between the groups.
Let’s look at the main findings, split roughly into the categories of planning, booking, and experiencing a trip.
What were key trends when planning a trip?
There were four important insights gleaned from the planning stage of a trip for European travellers. From determining destinations to spending, to preferred activities this was the most pertinent data:
1. Did travellers have their mind made up?
French travellers ranked highest for having already decided on a destination at 34%, while Germans were the most likely to be weighing up two or more locations (60%). British travellers were somewhere in between, with 67% saying they had an idea of where they wanted to go but were looking for further inspiration.
2. How did they help themselves decide?
Finding the best deals and value were a huge priority when deciding on a destination. Ninety-two percent of British travellers chose this option. The most popular response for German travellers was a desire to be outdoors and active during their trip (80%). French travellers had two big factors guiding them; a bucket list experience (68%) and that the vacation would be family oriented (67%).
3. What influenced them the most?
When it came to advertising most segments agreed on what would influence them. Appealing deals won out at 48% across the board, and all also agreed good imagery was extremely important. When it came to informative content and helpful reviews, German travellers placed a higher priority on these at 51% and 32% respectively.
Interestingly, the surveyed group had a much different view on what channels would influence them the most. OTAs ranked highest amongst Germans (61%), travel review sites for British travellers (68%), and search engines for the French (57%).
4. How did they want to spend their money?
Thirty-one percent of Brits and Germans spent the highest proportion of their of budget on hotels, while another 20% of British travellers splurged on flights, and French travellers spent the most on transportation in general of the three groups. Food wasn’t given as much weight, with 16% of all travellers nominating this as their highest spend.
What were the key trends when booking a trip?
Another four valuable findings were discovered when looking at the booking habits of European travellers. Again, there were some interesting discrepancies between the demographics.
1. What devices did they use to book?
Unsurprisingly desktop/laptop was used the most for inspiration (75%), research (82%), and booking (87%), and smartphone was the dominant device to be used during a trip (67%). Both devices easily outpointed tablets as a popular option.
Of course, not all activities were started and completed on a single device.
The most common multi-device activities were:
- Looking up maps/directions – 37%
- Looking up restaurants – 36%
- Looking at destinations – 36%
- Looking up attractions – 35%
- Looking up hotels – 34%
2. What were the booking trends?
British travellers seemed to be the most avid group, 40% saying they’d booked a trip less than three months ago. The highest ranked response for Germans was three to five months ago (25%), and the French were even more sparse, with 20% saying their last trip booked was at least a year ago.
The British were also the most decisive, recording the highest proportion of responses for finalising a booking in less than a week at 34%. German travellers ranked highest for one to three weeks (36%). This was the most popular option for French travellers too but they were the most prominent of all three in the two-to-three months bracket (13%).
3. How long did they travel?
French travellers took the longest trips with an average of 10.2 days dedicated to their vacations.
British travellers were the most hit-and-run with only an average of 7.9 days per trip.
4. What was their mode of travel?
All travellers strongly preferred planes but the most likely group to take a plane to their destination was British travellers (65%), a car was most likely to be taken by Germans (31%), and trains proved most popular among the French (13%).
What were the key trends for experiencing a trip?
As far as experiencing trips, the study looked at who took the most time away, what they enjoyed and where they stayed.
1. Who took the most trips?
Overall, French travellers took the most trips with 3.9 each year. They ranked equal with British travellers for personal trips at 2.7, but were clear on 1.2 for the most business trips.
2. What types of trips did they take?
Relaxing was the number one focus for German travellers (62%). Sightseeing ranked highest for both British and French travellers (53% and 46% respectively), while the French were also the most likely to nominate family play (35%) and Brits were most likely to enjoy a romantic getaway (26%).
3. Where did they stay?
Understandably hotels were the most popular choice for all groups (the highest proportion being British travellers at 67%), but 17% of French travellers would stay with family/friends, and 10% of Germans in resorts, the most for those categories.
French travellers also strongly considered alternative accommodation (17%).
4. Did they stay at home or abroad?
At 44% of the response, French travellers were the most likely group to stay in their own country. On the other side of the coin, 72% of German travellers would seek trips outside of their own country. British travellers were a 68% vs. 32% split between home and away.
It would be safe to conclude that each traveller group has their own distinct preferences and behaviour patterns, meaning personalisation is key if hoteliers want to attract a particular market.
In general though, it seems as though the typical European is deciding between two or more destinations, will use OTAs most prominently, looks for good deals and focuses on activities, and can be swayed by compelling imagery and informative content.