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Three key consumer behaviours to know in the travel industry

A man inside a building talks on the phone while looking away from the camera.

The way we travel is changing. With the pandemic nearing its end phases, interest in travel is rising. Our first-party data has uncovered three primary attitudes that most people take when researching, considering, and purchasing their next adventure.

We leveraged a supervised machine learning model to understand shopping and search behaviours for those looking for and purchasing airfare, hotels, cruises, rental cars, and online travel agencies. We found that each of these consumers fell within three behavioural attitudes that you can plan for.

Those attitudes are:

  • The planner
  • The last-minute booker
  • The dreamer

Understanding how travel consumers search and purchase travel-related products helps advertisers create opportunities to better reach and engage with them. Once you’ve identified your customers’ key motivations and cross-shopping interests, you can incorporate this information into your advertising efforts for a more targeted approach.

Air travellers

You’re likely not surprised to hear that air travellers are mostly planners. Still, they’re also 2.7 times more likely to be in-market for travel publications and 2.4 times more likely to be in-market for additional travel transportation.

Air travellers care about more than making their flights on time. They’re also 80 times more interested in credit cards and 67 times more interested in home décor when compared to generic travel audiences. Knowing this information can help you reach them with the correct message.

Planners make up the most converters in air travel with 55%, and they typically convert within a month. Here are some additional details for targeting them:

  • 51% are female.
  • 65% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 63% of conversions took less than a month.
  • 80% of converters made 2 to 7 unique searches.
  • 66% of journeys started between Monday and Thursday, with a spike on Monday.
  • 63% of conversions occur Monday and Thursday, with a spike on Wednesday.
  • 67% of the searches happened between 3 p.m. and midnight.
  • 86% of converters saw 2 to 10 ads before conversion.
  • 15% of converters saw a Microsoft Audience Network ad before conversion.
  • 33% of converters are in-market audiences, and 16% are remarketing audiences.

While planners make up the bulk of the audience for air travellers, they’re not exclusive. The last-minute booker makes up 33% of all converters, and they have the most conversions within one day.

Here are more insights about them:

  • They’re equally distributed in gender.
  • 65% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 98% of conversions took place within a day.
  • 91% of converters saw one ad before conversion.
  • 34% of converters are in-market, and 27% are remarketing audiences.

Finally, the dreamer thinks about travel more than they do it, but 12% of the time, they do go from fantasy to reality and make a purchase.

The dreamers make up 12% of all converters. What’s more, they’re also the oldest audience, take the longest time to convert at two to three months, and have the most exposure to online display advertising.

Here are more insights about the dreamer:

  • 51% are male.
  • 68% of converters are over 50 years old.
  • 70% of conversions took place between 2 to 3 months.
  • 44% of converters saw 5 to 10 ads, and 28% of converters saw 11 to 20 ads before conversion.
  • 32% of converters are in-market audiences, and 34% are remarketing audiences.

How to reach air travellers on the Microsoft Audience Network

Air travellers are interested in media and guides, so connect them to tours and activities to create a total travel experience.

  • Layer on the relevant in-market audience for business class and first class, city and local guides, last-minute travel, transportation and excursions, and travel media and publications through search and with the Microsoft Audience Network.
  • They’re also interested in credit cards, so promote branded credit cards to reach fliers who are open to financial opportunities.
  • Use In-market Audiences for credit cards, home décor, restaurant delivery and takeout, luggage, sports and fitness, and winter sports equipment.

Car renters

As with all travel, there’s been some flux in the car rental industry, with demand outstripping supply and causing shortages. That makes car renters more interested in protecting their investment and having transportation options available.

Travellers in the market for car rentals are also 19 times more likely to be in the market for a specific type of vehicle, such as compact or economy, and 16 times more likely to search for a luxury vehicle or convertible than the generic travel audiences.

Last-minute bookers make up 45% of car renters, and they typically convert the same day. Here are some additional details for targeting them:

  • 56% are male.
  • They might know the brand well, often with only one unique search.
  • 71% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 100% of conversions took place within one day.
  • 67% of conversions occur Monday and Thursday, with a spike on Monday.
  • 49% of converters are in-market audiences, and 8% are remarketing audiences.

Though most car renters tend to be last-minute bookers, a fair share does some planning.

The planner makes up 39% of all conversions for car renters. Here are some additional details for targeting them:

  • 77% of conversions took place within a month.
  • 97% of converters made 1 to 4 unique searches.
  • 66% of conversions occur Monday and Thursday, with spikes Monday and Wednesday.
  • 93% of converters saw 2 to 5 ads before conversion.
  • 40% of converters are in-market audiences, and 24% are remarketing audiences.

The dreamers tend to browse and plan for a long time before taking action. They make up 16% of all car rental conversions. Here’s what else we discovered:

  • 65% are male.
  • 64% of conversions took place between 2 to 3 months.
  • 40% of converters are between 50 and 64 years old.
  • 86% of converters made 4 to 11 unique searches.
  • 35% of converters are in-market audiences, and 29% are remarketing audiences.

How to reach car renters on the Microsoft Audience Network

Car renters are interested in specific vehicles, allowing for more accurate audience targeting by type. Reach economy and luxury audiences who care about specific vehicle types.

  • Layer on the relevant in-market audience for bus and rail travel, economy, compact and mid-size car rental, luxury, convertible and speciality car rental, travel media and publications, and speciality travel through search and the Microsoft Audience Network.
  • To reach high-value consumers, prioritise added car rental amenities like travel insurance and luxury rentals.
  • Consider in-market luxury vehicles, travel insurance, romance and relationships, moving and relocation, campers and RVs, and sporting goods.

Cruisers

Cruises are back in action, and travellers are ready to set sail. The fun of going on cruises is looking for and finding the various types and destinations now available. This group loves to spend time planning their trip and exploring options.

Travellers in the market for cruises are also 70 times more likely to be looking for activewear and 2.3 times more likely to be in-market for a travel package compared to generic travel audiences.

The planner makes up 53% of all cruise purchasers. They typically convert within one month and mostly on Sundays. Here are some additional details for targeting them:

  • 53% are female.
  • 64% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 70% of conversions took less than a month.
  • 69% of converters made 2 to 6 unique searches.
  • 6% of conversions come from mobile devices and 94% from desktop devices.
  • 63% of journeys started between Sunday and Wednesday, with a spike on Monday.
  • 61% of conversions took place between Sunday and Wednesday, with a spike on Sunday.
  • 62% of the searches happened between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.
  • 74% of converters saw 2 to 8 ads before conversion.
  • 36% of converters are in-market audiences, and 21% are remarketing audiences.

While most cruisers love to have long cruise ship fantasies, there are 28% that quickly make the leap and reserve close to the date of departure.

Here are more details on the last-minute booker:

  • 54% are female.
  • They might know the brand well with only one unique search.
  • 60% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 4% of conversions are from mobile devices, and 96% are from desktop.
  • 63% of journeys started between Sunday and Wednesday, with a spike on Monday.

Still, 19% of cruisers fall into the dreamer category. This group takes the longest to decide — usually over three months before purchase. They’re also the most exposed to Microsoft Audience Network advertising.

Here are more details on the dreamer:

  • Equally distributed in gender.
  • 66% of converters are over 50 years old.
  • 57% of conversions took place between 2 to 3 months.
  • 73% of converters made 4 to 12 unique searches.
  • 4% of conversions are from mobile devices, and 96% are from desktop devices.

How to reach cruisers on the Microsoft Audience Network

Cruisers are also in-market for activewear, houses for sale, computer accessories and components, retirement planning, financial planning, and investment services.

  • Cruise audiences relate closely to those who prioritise financial services. Consider targeting this audience to gain on your competitors.
  • Use relevant in-market audiences for city and local guides, last-minute travel, speciality travel, travel booking services, and vacation packages.
  • Cruisers want convenience due to their strong relationship with travel booking services and vacation packages. Highlight the ease of cruising with your brand.

Hotels

Hotel travellers run the gamut between business and pleasure. While this group is likely to plan whenever possible, they care about more than just checking in on time.

People in the market for hotels are also 105 times more likely to be looking for swimwear and 87 times more likely to be searching for event tickets than generic travel audiences.

The planner makes up 56% of all conversions for hotel room purchasers. They typically convert within two months of their first search.

Here are some additional details for targeting them:

  • 55% are male.
  • 69% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 84% of conversions took less than 2 months.
  • 76% of converters made 2 to 9 unique searches.
  • 65% of journeys started between Monday and Thursday, with a spike on Monday.
  • 63% of conversions took place between Monday and Thursday, with a spike on Monday.
  • 73% of the searches happened between 2 p.m. and 12 a.m.
  • 76% of converters saw 2 to 14 ads before conversion.
  • 31% of converters saw a Microsoft Audience Network ad before conversion.
  • 30% of converters are in-market audiences, and 29% are remarketing audiences.

Though most who reserve hotel rooms like to plan, some wait. These last-minute bookers make up 25% of all converters. Once they begin looking, they typically rent a hotel room within one week, using very few searches.

Here are some additional details for targeting them:

  • 57% are male.
  • They might know the brand well, with only 1 to 3 unique searches.
  • 72% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 63% of conversions took place between Monday and Thursday, with a spike on Monday.
  • 91% of converters saw 1 to 3 ads before conversion.

Last but not least, there’s a small contingent of people browsing hotel listings for two to three months before finally making a purchase. These dreamers account for 19% of all conversions.

Here are some additional details for targeting them:

  • 56% are male.
  • 68% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 74% of converters made 10 to 25 unique searches.
  • 43% of converters saw 13 to 27 ads, and 20% saw 28 to 38 ads before conversion.
  • 32% of converters are in-market audiences, and 31% are remarketing audiences.

How to reach hotel bookers on the Microsoft Audience Network

People who book hotels are in-market for other items as well. It will help to promote related items or benefits that might interest them.

Hotel lodgers are open to exploring options past hotels. They’ll likely be looking for other things to do in the area. Get their attention by offering some advice.

  • Layer on the relevant in-market audience for city and local guides, last-minute travel, vacation packages, vacation rentals, and resorts.
  • Does your hotel have a pool? Highlight amenities to find the traveller ready to buy swimwear and take a dip! Also, consider packages with event tickets and sporting goods through the Microsoft Advertising Network and search.

Online travel agencies

People who use online travel agencies consider the entire travel experience with search. They’re especially interested in ratings, car rentals, travel media, and last-minute trips.

Online travel agency users are also 70 times more likely to be in the market for travel insurance, to have a high interest in pets, and be most attracted to the highest star ratings compared to generic travel audiences.

The last-minute booker makes up the most converters in this category with 44%. Their decision journey is short, and they conduct just one to three unique searches before conversion, which is typically within a week.

Here are some additional details on the last-minute booker:

  • 51% are male.
  • 62% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 71% of conversions took less than a week.
  • 100% of converters made 1 to 3 unique searches.
  • 30% of conversions are for hotels, 17% are for airlines.
  • 12% are for activities (beach, mountain, lake, park), and 8% are for car rentals.
  • 6% of conversions are from mobile devices, and 94% are from desktop devices.
  • 65% of journeys started between Monday and Thursday, with a spike on Wednesday.
  • 78% of conversions took place on a weekday, with a spike on Wednesday.
  • 71% of the searches happened between 3 p.m. and 1 a.m.

The planner makes up 32% of all converters and usually purchases within a month. This group is equally distributed between men and women.

Here are some additional details on the planner:

  • 62% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 99% of converters made 4 to 9 unique searches.
  • 36% of conversions are for hotels, and 14% are for airlines.
  • 14% are for activities (beach, mountain, lake, park), and 9% are for car rentals.
  • 7% of conversions are from mobile devices, and 93% are from desktop devices.

Nearly 24% of people in-market to purchase from an online travel agency are dreamers. They spend the most extended time looking at various sites and browsing for different options. It typically takes them two to three months to make a purchase.

Here are some additional details on dreamers:

  • 51% are female.
  • 62% of converters are between 35 and 64 years old.
  • 68% of conversions took 2 to 3 months.
  • 72% of converters made 10 to 22 unique searches.
  • 38% of conversions are for hotels, 17% for activities (beach, mountain, lake, park), 11% for airlines, and 8% for car rentals.

How to reach online travel agency bookers on the Microsoft Audience Network

People who use online travel agencies are also interested in ratings, car rentals, pets, travel media, and last-minute trips.

  • Layer on the relevant in-market audience for travel insurance, pets and animals, mobile phone service providers, savings accounts, credit and lending, romance, and relationships through search and the Microsoft Audience Network.
  • Do you offer travel insurance? If so, promote it to show how you’ll protect their investment.
  • These travellers have ratings on top of mind; highlight highly rated hotels to capture their attention.

With these new insights, advertisers have plenty of opportunities and ideas to test new targeting and reach audiences at the right time in their journey. Targeting via In-market Audiences on the Microsoft Audience Network is a smart way to reach shoppers that your competitors might be overlooking. Using this strategy will help you get to the dreamers and planners before they’ve decided and give them the information they need to choose your brand.

All data: Microsoft Internal Data August 2021 – October 2021. Converted users are last click converters.

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