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First Summer Vacation Stop: The Internet

Families hit the Web for reservations

More than seven out of 10 families plan to travel when school lets out for the summer, and three-quarters of them say they will book their travel online, according to an AOL-sponsored survey conducted by OTX.

Two-thirds of respondents said they had not yet booked their summer travel.

"Even in the early summer months, advertisers can influence vacation decisions with price-focused offers that will be appealing in the current economic environment," said Anne Hunter, vice president of AOL's Platform-A.

Ms. Hunter also said that it was getting easier for travel marketers to reach in-market consumers, thanks to online retargeting.

Nearly one-half of respondents relied on friends and family for travel recommendations and information, while 21% said they used travel books. Almost three-quarters said they used the Internet for vacation planning. Of these Web-savvy consumers, 72% browsed search engines, 58% went to online booking sites, 26% visited consumer testimonial sites and 19% browsed travel information sites.

Responding families with school-age children planned to spend at least $1,000 on a one-week vacation in July. The most common trips planned are to theme parks (30%), family visits (27%), road trips (22%), camping trips (21%) and trips to other US destinations (19%).

More than seven out of 10 responding families reported that they would travel by car this summer, which they said was more affordable even with the high price of gas.

More consumers have been booking online every year since 2000, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The increased use of the Internet for travel research and booking is reflected in sales. Online travel revenues from consumers and unmanaged business travel (mainly small businesses) will approach $110 billion this year, and $166 billion in 2011.

The eMarketer US Travel Online: Planning and Booking report will be published in July 2008. Click here to be notified when it is released.

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