Study: Travelers Prioritize Searching for Experiences

In the 12 weeks leading up to a trip, people search for experiences three times more than they do for hotel booking and eight times more than for flight searches, according to a recent study.

The research, done by Google and Greenberg, Inc., examined the behavior of travelers from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany, and focused on the growing trend of travelers searching for experiences at destinations. Despite trailing airline and hotel bookings on the digital plane in recent years, the travel experience industry is expanding at an incredibly fast rate. Phocuswright, a travel-market research company, predicted that it will grow into a $183 billion industry.

Myriad Experiences Available

Travelers have some general idea of what to expect when booking a flight or hotel room, and the options are limited, but booking activities and experiences is a much more varied and open-ended endeavor. Experiences can range from visiting the famed Louvre Museum in Paris to enjoying a hot-air balloon ride in Arizona.

The Google study found that 48 percent of searches for experiences were done after travelers had already arrived at their destination, which could indicate that many travelers looked for quick experiences after their business was settled and/or after they had learned more about the place.

Millennials’ Impact

This increase in search behavior for experiences was likely affected by a large number of millennials­ prioritizing them over products and other things. This preference was indicated in a report, 2018 Future of U.S. Millennial Travel, based on a Resonance Consultancy survey. Given that millennials travel more than the general population—82 percent of millennials traveled last year, compared to 75 percent of all other generations—they likely helped to boost the overall increase in searches for experiences. And, since millennials are estimated to outnumber baby boomers by 2028, this trend is likely to continue.

Business Plus Leisure

The increase in searches for experiences makes sense when you also factor in the increasing popularity of “bleisure” travel, another phenomenon in which millennials are leading the charge, with more millennials (90 percent) engaging in bleisure than Gen Xers (81 percent) and baby boomers (80 percent), according to National Car Rental’s 2019 State of Business Travel Survey. Last year, 75 percent of business travelers said that they extended their trips to make time for leisure.

Whether for business or for leisure, people want the new experiences that traveling offers, and if their search history as revealed in the study is any indication, they put a high priority on them.

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