Travel trends and the year ahead
?The travel industry is large and fairly byzantine,? said Mark Rabe, the president and chief executive of Sojern. ?But we?ve been able to get really good at estimating when people are in the market for specific travel goods and services, which allows us to give customized offers at the right time and place.?
To accomplish this, Sojern regularly mines 520 million ?traveler intent points? based on search data, confirmations and check-ins, hunting for trends in the domestic travel market.
Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Rabe about what some of those trends are, and which are likely to shape domestic travel this year.
Q: Have you seen notable changes in how people traveled in 2013??
A.?For one, people are spending more time online researching. A study conducted bye Marketer?suggested that nearly two-thirds of all travelers today research online before they book. Even 10 years ago that was probably in the single digits.
What trends are likely to carry forward into this year??
In the air segment, we?re starting to see longer booking windows. This might be due to the consolidation of the airline market and the economy?s picking up. There?s been an upswing in leisure travel, especially over the second half of the year, making it harder to find good seats at good fares, so people are buying earlier.
Conversely, we?ve seen the reverse in the majority of hotel reservations, car rentals and activities that take place within the destination. With those, the booking windows are contracting. There?s?a great report by JiWire?that shows that more than 55 percent of travelers are booking travel-related activities while they are actually traveling, meaning after they?ve taken off.
Could you explain the contrast?
Well, one way of seeing it is that people may view the price of hotel rooms as more stable than airline tickets and so don?t book them with the same priority level.
Tangentially, we also see a rise in this idea that ?other people can do the work for me.? There are a lot of companies taking advantage of and potentially driving that trend. Like Hotel Tonight.?We?re also noticing an increased use in mobile devices to transact.
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