With more people traveling than ever before the average traveler is a concept of the past. The path to purchase is complex—comprised of hundreds of touch points during the dreaming and booking stages. Travel advertiser’s understanding of the path to purchase will have to adapt as the travel industry evolves to catch up with shifting traveler traits.
We talked to Stephen Taylor SVP of Enterprise Solutions, as he dashes characterizations of the average traveler in three simple points:
[Sojern] Who is the average traveler?
[Taylor]: I think there’s really no such thing as the average traveler, it’s a concept we’ve talked about too much. I think back in 2013, somebody started talking about the average traveler visits around 38 websites before making a purchase but that really misses three big things.
- It misses some nuance – I might go to a website, but how many times do I go there, how many searches do I do, I may be comparing ten different products on that same website when I’m there.
- The second is the sheer number of websites, in all of our analysis we’re finding hundreds and hundreds of touchpoints rather than just ten or twenty.
- And perhaps the most important thing is the whole concept of an average, when you see that there are hundreds and hundreds of touchpoints, and you look at each individual’s pathway, and you recognize every single pathway, the sequence, the number of things they do, is different for every individual, the whole idea that you can market to some sort of average traveler starts to completely fall apart.
When you look at the individual path to purchases and you realize that there really is no such thing as an average traveler, you then have to begin to realize that the idea of simply fitting your customers into a segment – I’m a snowbird, I’m a last-minute traveler, I’m a family planner, or a business traveler – you actually begin to realize how meaningless those segments are.
[Sojern] What’s an example of the path to purchase?
[Taylor] Let’s take an example of one path to purchase, an anonymous traveler, we saw what they were looking at – this is a traveler looking to book a theme-park vacation for their family.
They’re already a member of the loyalty program of this particular theme park, yet nevertheless they have about 400 different touchpoints in going through this path to purchase, looking at the brand’s own websites, other websites, comparing and contrasting hotels where they could stay, flights, car rental, even including competitor websites, and indeed a booking on competitor website, for a completely different vacation at a different time – and we saw people flipping, this traveler flipping, between mobile and desktop. That’s 400 touchpoints, multiple devices just for one family vacation.