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Planes, Boats and Automobiles A Look at Online Preferences of U.S. Travelers
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Planes, Boats and Automobiles A Look at Online Preferences of U.S. Travelers

Summer is a season to be out and about – enjoying the sunshine, traveling, and of course vacationing.  Nielsen data shows that U.S. travelers of all ages are indeed in the midst of the hottest travel season, visiting a variety of travel sites to research and plan their destinations.

Different Ages, Different Places and Ways of Getting There

  • Young Road Warriors: Internet users aged 18-34 seem to prefer driving to their chosen destination – wherever that may be- as they are more likely to visit Ground Transportation and Maps/Travel Info sites than they are any other category of travel websites.  This group makes up nearly 30 percent of the visitors to both types of sites, which is 13 percent higher than their Internet average (25%). This group is least likely browse Cruise Lines and Airlines sites, accounting for only 25 percent and 20 percent of these sites’ visitors, respectively.

  • Family Fans: Destination sites (i.e. Walt Disney World, Six Flags, etc.) and Hotel/Hotel Directory sites have a high concentration of Internet users aged 35-49.  Family Fans make up over a third of visitors to these sites and are more likely to visit a Destination or Hotel/Hotel Directory site than any other age group (34% and 32% more likely, respectively).  As a means of transportation to their selected destination, some things haven’t changed with this group as they are more likely to round everyone up and head out in the family car than fly.

  • Senior Sailors: Internet users aged 50+ like to set sail, accounting for almost half of the unique visitors to Cruise Lines sites.  This is 45 percent above the Internet average (33%) making them the most likely of all age groups to visit Cruise Line sites.  The next most popular type of travel site among this group is Airlines, where Internet users over 50 make up 41 percent of the audience to these sites, 27 percent above the Internet Average.
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Travel Trends

Not surprisingly, visits across all Nielsen categories of Travel sites spike in January and then again during the summer months of June and July.  As the cost of air travel continues to rise, largely due to fare increases and baggage fees, Americans may be opting to drive to their destinations instead of flying; the number of unique visitors to Ground Transportation sites has remained steady over the past two years while Airline sites have seen a 24 percent decrease in visitors over the same period.

Overall, visits to Travel sites have increased over the last two years (+2%), with Multi-category Travel sites (i.e. Expedia, TripAdvisor, etc.) seeing the largest growth in visitors since June 2009 (+7%).

Spending Power and Vacation Activities among Online Travel Purchasers

Adult Internet users who recently made an online travel purchase don’t mind spending big once they’ve decided to travel.  This group is over 2 times more likely than the average adult online to be heavy spenders on hotel reservations (Index 273), airline tickets (Index 266) and vacation packages (Index 288).

Once they have reached their final destination, top vacation activities include visiting family and friends (38%), going to the beach (26%) and camping (16%).