The summer travel season may be winding down but consumers are already making plans for the busy holiday season and into January of next year. Much of today’s leisure travel is planned through online resources, either from a consumer’s home computer or at work. And these online consumers are exhibiting distinct preferences by age group which travel providers should consider as they seek to target potential customers.
Nielsen researchers have uncovered travel preferences by age group as follows:
- Younger consumers, those ages 18–34, skew higher than average for site visits to providers of ground transportation and map/travel information.
- Consumers ages 35–50, those most likely to be traveling with children, make destination and hotel directory sites their top choice in online research. This is also the group that is most likely to drive to the final destination.
- Those consumers over age 50 skew much higher than average for visiting cruise line sites. In addition, these consumers also show a higher than average preference for airline travel as well as multi-category travel.
While the Nielsen study emphasized differences by age groups for travelers, it focused on Internet users. As a whole, this group showed some shifts in behavior. For example, airline sites have indicated a 24% drop in visitors during the past two years. At the same time, unique visitors to ground transportation sites have remained steady. Analysts speculate this change indicates that consumers are avoiding flying as much as possible, perhaps because of the additional fees being levied on everything from baggage handling to aisle seat assignments.
Some things haven’t changed though. The online audience spends more heavily than the average traveler on everything from hotels to airlines to overall vacation packages. So travel providers will likely continue to target these consumers online.[Source: Planes, Boats and Automobiles. Blog.nielsen.com. 2 Aug. 2011. Web. 9 Sept. 2011]