- Travel Brand Research
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Anyone who has travelled recently will almost certainly have booked a flight or hotel with an online booking portal like booking.com or Skyscanner. These websites allow you to quickly find a room, car, flight etc. and have contributed to the demise of the traditional high street travel agent.
Barriers to entry in this fast growing digital market are low and, as a result, there has been a deluge of new providers competing for travellers’ clicks in recent years.
To gain or hold market share in this crowded and highly competitive field, online travel companies heavily invest in their branding. The assumption goes that the more recognisable a brand (be it through its tone of voice, strapline, imagery, colour), the higher retention rates will be.
Tourism market research specialists LJ Research recently surveyed more than 600 LJ Reinvent tourism panel members to ask about online travel brand awareness, use and perceptions.
A summary of our LJ Research Travel Brand Awareness Index is presented below.
Review website TripAdvisor, that can also be used to book hotels and flights, tops the Travel Brand Awareness Ranking: nearly 9 out of 10 said they are aware of the Oxford-based portal that was founded in 2000. Expedia and Booking.com also benefit from high brand awareness levels: rated number 2 and 3 in the ranking, respectively.
Which brands are you aware of?
The ranking looks similar across genders however panellists’ origins as well as their age groups show distinct variations. It is interesting to note, that younger people generally are more brand-sensitive, with 16 – 34 year olds more likely to know the brands compared to older travellers.
The exception is Orbitz: the Chicago-based website used to research, plan and book travel was known by 1 in 3 travellers aged 55+. Conversely, Edinburgh-based Skyscanner – a flight comparison website – was much more popular among younger folk: 55% of travellers aged under 35 were aware of the metasearch engine.
The rank of the Travel Brands in terms of usage was similar to the trend seen for awareness, with TripAdvisor continuing to lead the way. A notable drop between awareness and usage can be seen for Trivago, being the 5th most known brand but only the 8th most used. Meanwhile, a notable increase was apparent for Skyscanner moving up from being the 9th most known brand to the 6th most used.
Which brands have you used?
The data suggests that TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Hotels.com have similar market penetration across respondent origin and age groups; however there are clear indications that some of these brands such as Skyscanner, Lastminute.com and Opodo are still in a market development phase, as stark differences were observed comparing UK and overseas respondents. (For example, Lastminute.com was used by 52% of respondents from the UK compared to 11% from overseas).
Newer brands such as Skyscanner tended to have more users aged 16-34, whereas longer established brands such as Expedia had a larger proportion of users in the 55+ age group.
Trusted Travel Brands
The LJ Travel Brand Awareness Index clearly shows a correlation between awareness, usage and brand trust, with the majority of brands’ users having a higher level of trust. TripAdvisor again stands out as the top brand here with even non-users of the website attributing relatively high trust figures (83% of TripAdvisor users trust the platform compared to an average at 59%). New players in the market need to fight harder to be trusted: whilst 64% of those who have used Skyscanner trust the platform; only 12% of travellers overall said that they trust the metasearch engine.
Which brand do you trust?
The 55+ age category seem the most sceptical of brands as 16% indicated they trusted none of these brands. Meanwhile, 16-34 year olds show the highest levels of trust in the travel brands.
Sean Morgan, Managing Director at LJ Research said: “Our Travel Brand Awareness Index has identified a strong correlation between brand loyalty and market share among major online travel brands. Delving deeper there are some very interesting insights for travel professionals and online travel brands to understand travellers’ perceptions. Going forward the LJ Travel Brand Awareness Index will allow brands to monitor the impact of their activities in this increasingly competitive environment”.
For more information about our online survey system, click here.