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Research Reveals Key Influence Drivers for Each Phase
of the Travel Decision-Making Process

Orlando, Fla. (May 27, 2011) - Consumers today are autonomous - both by choice and necessity. They have become more insular with a closely-knit sphere of influence and, as revealed in the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of the American Travelers(SM), this is affecting how they both arrive at and make purchase decisions.
Within the funnel of information sources that drive purchases, new insights from the survey reveal that initial ideas and advice are obtained through personal relationships and trusted media.  Internet sources dominate as travelers move closer toward purchasing decisions. Specifically, the key drivers for each phase of the travel decision-making process include:
  • Step #1: Ideas and inspiration: In this first stage, the role of family and friends is essentially tied with traditional media as the trusted source of information. The American traveler casts a wide net when seeking ideas and inspiration for travel-related decisions. Just over half look to family and friends (52 percent), alongside television (48 percent), and a variety of printed media including magazines (49 percent), professional guide books (46 percent) and brochures (43 percent).
  • Step #2: Advice and insight: The range of sources narrows in this next phase, as consumers move closer to making an actual purchase decision. The personal recommendations of family and friends still top the list (54 percent), followed by travel guide books (44 percent) and travel experts (38 percent). The Internet grows in influence, with search websites such as Google and utilized by nearly one in four travelers (38 percent), as well as destination websites (37 percent). Interestingly, the impact of brochures and television drops, revealing their role primarily as awareness-building, not advice-providing. 
  • Step #3: Pricing and comparing: The Internet moves to the forefront, as travelers explore a variety of online resources. Online travel agencies such as Expedia or Travelocity are utilized by more than half of travelers for gathering pricing information (56 percent) and impartial comparisons (51 percent). Travel service suppliers’ websites (such as airline or hotel pages) are also sources for pricing (51 percent), but less so for comparisons (35 percent). Roughly one-third turn to online search engines (37 percent) or multi-brand online platforms like Amazon and (35 percent), and destination websites (34 percent) for pricing. However, only one out of four travelers uses destination websites for comparison shopping.
  • Step #4: Purchasing: When it comes to purchasing the best deal, the funnel narrows to two main options – booking through an online travel agency (41 percent) or directly via a travel supplier’s own web site (38 percent). Less than one in four travelers uses traditional travel agents (23 percent) when booking, followed distantly by multi-brand websites (18 percent) and destination websites (17 percent).
The Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM) is national survey of 2,539 U.S. households that was conducted in February 2011. The nationally-representative results provide an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, social values and media habits on the travel habits of Americans with an annual household income of $50,000 or more. For more information, please visit the Publications section of
Ypartnership is America's leading marketing services company serving travel, leisure and entertainment clients. The agency's Insights group is widely acknowledged as the preeminent source of market intelligence on emerging business and leisure travel trends. The firm also co-authors the quarterly travelhorizons(TM) survey with the U.S. Travel Association. For more information, visit


Christie Gregovich or Noel Perkins

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