U.K. Consumers Check Travel on Web

Online search is the starting point for many consumers in-market to travel, but most initial searches take up to 90 days to return purchase activity. That’s according to data released by comScore Media Metrix; Yahoo Search Marketing; and Media Contacts that show a link between search and multichannel travel transactions among U.K. consumers.

The Web is a starting point for travel research and purchase. Holiday destinations and related searches were queried by 7.5 million U.K. consumers who made 9.8 million travel purchases in the three-month period from December 2005 to February 2006. Although a small portion made immediate purchases, 85 percent of travel searchers transacted within the 90 days of their initial search.

“If you look at the direct response business model on search, you’re only going to get the tip of the iceberg, you’re going to miss the other 90 percent of what happens in different sessions, on different computers, [and offline],” said Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe. “Monitoring ROI on direct response metrics is affecting the impact on search.”

Organic and sponsored listings play a key role in travel searches. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents said they looked at a travel site because it was in the first few search results. Sponsored ads were clicked or at least noticed by 32 percent. The respondents noted the relevancy of the offers in the paid listings. Thirty percent said they don’t go past the first page of search results, and 25 percent considered a new brand to book travel because of its placement on the results page.

The study used comScore’s U.K.-based panel of opt-in Internet users to measure clickstream. Travel-related activity was observed over 90 days ending in February 2006. Users identified based on initial searches were time-aligned to a common starting point based on the initial query in the period, with eight weeks’ analysis. Users were observed on major U.K. search engines, including Yahoo, Google, MSN, AOL, and Ask Jeeves. Clickstream data from over 7,500 searchers were observed. An offline survey of 300 respondents provided deeper insight into search and transactional activity and attitudinal data.

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