Posted May 28, 2014 6:06 pm by with 0 comments

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Booking a vacation used to be a job for a qualified professional, but now everyone’s a travel agent thanks to sites like Kayak, Orbitz and Expedia. But online booking sites come in second to the good old, everyday search engine.

The Great American Vacation Study: How Travelers Seek, Shop and Save,” from parago takes an in-depth look at how Americans are planning their leisure travel and I think there’s a lot to learn here – even if you’re not specifically in the travel industry.

It starts with a big number. 90% of the people who responded said they travel for leisure at least once a year. 82% of women and 74% of men always or almost always plan the trip themselves. I don’t know if that speaks to the ease of online bookings or a rise in our need to control all things.

parago planning

As you can see, the majority of people start their vacation planning with a search engine. Which means they’re looking for ideas before they’re looking for savings. Once they’ve decided where they’re going, then they start looking for deals.

85% of US travelers look online for deals. 65% check 3 or more sites. 56% of travelers are more likely to take additional trips if they find great deals. The more money someone has, the more likely they are to jump at a great deal.

When it comes to finding travel deals, in every age bracket, online search engines and travel booking sites run neck-and-neck. Oddly the youngest and oldest groups turn to a search engine first. Gen Xer’s also check deal sites.

How do they choose? Value is the biggest factor far outweighing brand loyalty. Older travelers are willing to pay a little more for a convenient hotel location but younger travelers are all about the price. They’ll walk a half a mile to the Disneyland gates if it means saving $50 a night on their room.

Brand loyalty only becomes a factor when you reach the $100,000 income bracket. The more money a traveler earns, the more they’re likely to belong to a hotel or airline loyalty program – so I guess membership really does have its privileges.

When it comes to incentives, travelers want an extra bag checked free with their airline ticket and they want cash rebates for hotel stays. Give them $100 and they’ll extend their stay another night.

And of cash incentives, check this out:

parago switch websites

Wow, the lengths we’ll go to put a $25 prepaid card in our pockets! Keep that in mind the next time you ask your customers to fill out a long form on your website.

Want to learn more? You can download parago’s Great American Vacation Study for free. Now that’s a great deal.