Sydney, Australia - April 23, 2014 – TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site, today announced the results of the third installment of TripBarometer, the world’s largest accommodation and traveller survey¹. This biannual study, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm Ipsos, highlights country, regional and global travel trends, according to more than 61,000 travellers and hoteliers around the world, with 2,114 consumer respondents and 411 business respondents from Australia. Revealing changes in consumer spending plans and worldwide travel patterns, the TripBarometer also reports behavioural differences in planning and booking habits of travellers at different life stages.
The results of the latest TripBarometer study paint a positive picture for the global travel industry – overall, travellers are planning to spend more on their holidays in 2014 with the average annual traveller spend rising from $AUD 5,336 in 2013 to $AUD 5,498 for this year, an increase of three percent. Significantly, Australian travellers have shown strength in the local economy and a penchant for adventure, with plans this year to spend double the global average on travel ($AUD 13,831 vs. global average of $AUD 5,498).
Additionally, the proportion of travellers planning to travel more has increased across almost all markets. This year, 90 percent of global travellers are planning to travel domestically (up from 87 percent in 2013) and 77 percent plan to travel internationally, up 12 percent compared to 2013 (65%). In Australia, 90 percent of travellers are planning to travel domestically (up from 85 percent in 2013) while 91 percent are planning to travel abroad (up from 74% in 2013).
Growth in international travel mirrored by hotelier confidence
The increase in travel budgets and travel plans is reflected in business confidence, with 70 percent of hoteliers globally saying they are optimistic about their profitability in the year ahead (up from 67% in 2013). This is especially positive for Australian businesses, with three in four (75%) optimistic about their own profitability. The biggest influence on local optimism is local events (70%), which is a huge boost for the events industry in Australia.
While the proportion of global businesses planning to open new properties has dropped compared to last year (14% in 2014, down from 17% globally in 2013), those who do plan to build this year are attributing this to feeling confident about the tourism sector.
Although just one in five global hoteliers plan to hire staff, an encouraging 37 percent of accommodation businesses will be investing in staff training, perhaps indicating renewed efforts to deliver excellent customer service.
Down-under dreaming – Australia tops global travellers’ wish list
As we look ahead to the next 12 to 24 months in further positive travel news, Australia and Italy top the list of destinations travellers would choose to visit if money were no object. Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US all listed Australia in their top three. And with an abundance of breath-taking activities and attractions, it’s not surprising that Australia is #1 on the ‘must visit’ list for families, #2 for millennials and #2 for retirees. Meanwhile, Europe tops the list of places global travellers plan to visit (46%), followed by Asia (39%) and North America (32%).
For Australian travellers, Thailand was the most visited international destination in the past 12 months, whilst the US is the most popular destination planned for the year ahead.
And with beaches in our own backyard, the #1 holiday type for Australians is culture (44%), followed by a trip where I learn something new (35%) and then beaches (27%). It’s perhaps not surprising then that if money were no object, Aussies would head to Canada (48%), followed closely by Italy (43%).
“Exploration is back on the agenda in 2014, with more travellers planning international trips this year,” said Marc Charron, President, TripAdvisor for Business. “TripBarometer offers up insights into the needs and behaviours of consumers in today’s rapidly changing travel marketplace, providing valuable insights for hospitality businesses looking to attract new audiences. Travellers are upping their budgets but they are looking for bargains, expecting their accommodation of choice to deliver on value. Special offers, complimentary amenities and exceptional service are all going to be important factors in swaying potential guests.”
Online and offline co-exist for travel planning, but user-generated content reigns
Most travellers (65%) start planning their trip at least three to four months before they intend to go, with just under a third (32%) expecting to book one month ahead of their trip. Australians however are a well-organised bunch, with 36 percent starting to plan 7-12 months in advance (compared to the global average of 15%). And for one in 10 Australians, holiday planning starts more than a year in advance. In contrast, the majority of hoteliers (65%) estimate that most of their bookings take place within four weeks of the guest’s date of arrival, with the length of time increasing slightly for resorts.
When it comes to travel planning, online dominates, with 98 percent of travellers using online resources – 74 percent of global respondents cite ‘TripAdvisor’ as the most commonly used online source when researching and planning holidays, which jumps to 93% for Australian travellers. Yet online and offline co-exist. Australian travellers report that they like to use both online and offline resources to plan their trips, with 87 percent also using offline means, including word of mouth (66%) and travel guide books or brochures (58%).
With people turning online to plan and book their holidays, it comes as no surprise that hoteliers are placing higher importance on online reviews than price in terms of influencing travellers’ booking decisions. They perceive online reviews (64%; 59% in Australia) to have the biggest impact when travellers book accommodation, followed by price (50%; 44% in Australia) and recommendations from friends and family (45%; 46% in Australia). The results suggest that although hoteliers know price is an important factor, they believe that the room rate combined with a good online reputation will ultimately influence travellers’ booking decisions.
Mobile booking on the up in Australia, but global uptake still slow
Globally, travellers are attached to their mobiles, with 91 percent saying they use their smartphones on holiday. For Australians, perhaps unsurprisingly, staying in touch with family and friends via traditional calls (75%) and texts (79%) is the most popular mobile use, followed by navigation (62%). One in four travellers (globally 37% and Australia 39%) use their smartphone to find things to do, and a quarter (27%; 26% in Australia) are searching for hotels. Despite the increasing number of travellers using their mobile to plan and research, the trend has not yet crossed over to the booking stage.
Compared to the global average of 66 percent, more Australians booked their last trip online (73%), with a third (33%) stating ‘better price’ as the reason for choosing this booking method. Twenty-four percent booked offline (less in Australia at 17%). Whilst online bookings are commonplace, mobile bookings are emerging slowly. Just four percent of travellers globally (3% in Australia) booked the accommodation for their last trip via mobile, however China is leading the pack with 10 percent of Chinese booking via mobile, followed closely by Thailand (9%), and Indonesia and Malaysia (7%). This behaviour implies a ‘leapfrogging’ from offline to mobile channels in Asian markets, with travellers in this region more likely than others to have booked their last trip either via mobile (6%) or offline (27%).
Travellers who booked their last holiday via mobile are also the most likely to state that a good deal or special offer always determines their destination choice (20%), more so than respondents who used any other booking channel.
Three quarters of hoteliers (76%) already have a mobile offering for travellers in place, and of those who don’t, 50 percent plan to introduce a mobile offering in 2014. Almost half (45%) allow guests to book rooms via their website on a mobile device, and 38 percent have a mobile friendly website. With Australia as a mobile savvy nation, this statistic jumps to 61% for allowing people to make mobile bookings via a hotels website and 55 percent for having a mobile friendly website.
“While the importance of mobile is accepted by the travel industry, and as evidenced by travellers using their smartphones in increasing numbers while in destination, there is still a tremendous opportunity when it comes to booking,” said Barbara Messing, CMO, TripAdvisor. “Hotels are gearing up to welcome bookings via mobile and travellers are already researching hotels on their phones – the next step is facilitating the booking process on mobile devices to reach more people on the go.”
For the full TripBarometer report, infographic and global findings, please visit www.tripadvisor.com.au/tripbarometer.