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Online Reviews, Word of Mouth Key Factors Affecting Travel Plans, Study Finds

Travelers rely on online sites and word of mouth to plan their next trip, tend to spend more than initially planned, while almost half opt for Airbnb accommodation, according to STR’s Consumer Travel Insights 2019 report released this week.

The five-report series, which examines each stage of travel from booking and budgeting and to technology and travel brand interaction, was conducted in October 2018 on 2,228 engaged travelers from across the globe.

The analytics firm’s key findings reveal that a majority (69 percent) of holidaymakers use online review sites ahead of travel with 40 percent turning to TripAdvisor. More than half said word of mouth was still very important when planning their trip.

Of those who booked their holiday through an online travel agency, 55 percent said it was because it allowed comparison of multiple options while 29 percent said they opted for OTA arrangement because it offered the best deal.

“The rapid advent of new technologies and the continuous shifting of consumer perceptions pose both opportunities and challenges for the travel and tourism sector,” said Sean Morgan, director of research at STR.

Meanwhile, value for money was a high factor in decision-making with 77 percent of millennial travelers saying they took it into account when booking accommodation. More than half (52 percent) said they set a budget for their most recent trip, but 29 percent said they overspent.

Airbnb seems to be a leading choice among vacationers with 41 percent saying they used Airbnb at some point based on awareness of the brand (92 percent) while rival HomeAway was used by a mere 9 percent with 35 percent aware of the platform.

STR provides clients from multiple market sectors with premium, global data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights. Founded in 1985, STR maintains a presence in 15 countries with a corporate North American headquarters in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and an international headquarters in London, England.

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