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Study Shows Web Has Transformed Consumers Into More Savvy, Selective Travel Buyers

A study from travel insurer Allianz Global Assistance shows that expanded use of the internet has significantly changed the way consumers view travel. The study reviewed 32 million exchanges on travel forums in 11 countries, finding that consumers have become much more travel savvy, thus gaining new skills in purchasing trips that best meet their goals.
The results are part of the Allianz Global Assistance #Helpme Forums Observatory, which document four travel behavioral profiles, confirming the emergence of a new traveler -- the skillful tourist.

Skills that travelers have gained through increased web usage include knowing how to:

optimize their itinerary to find the best combination of price and quality take advantage of short term offers to experience a better trip anticipate travel constraints, including security, scheduling and comfort adapt travel goals to meet travel realities

 In addition to these skills, the following four behavioral profiles emerged, segmenting travelers according to their goals:

The "comfort" traveler -- focused on quality of the experience and seeking validation of plans by like-minded travelers
The "active"traveler -- seeking a physically challenging trip, experiencing as much as possible and then sharing those experiences
The "money smart"traveler -- looking for a deal and to only spend money on packages that meet the traveler's vision
The "stress" traveler -- concerned about what may go wrong on a trip and then seek advice from peers and travel professionals to navigate through potential problems

The behavioral segment tends to be guided by a tourist's country of origin. Americans are concerned about being money-smart and avoiding stress, but are not overly preoccupied by them. By
comparison, French travelers are largely focused on comfort and staying active.

"The HelpMe Forum demonstrates how travelers are becoming more sophisticated in visualizing and planning their trips, and suggests how travel agents and other travel suppliers can tailor their offerings to increase customer satisfaction," said Joe Mason, chief marketing officer at Allianz Global Assistance USA. "It also shows that travel insurance is an important consideration, especially for travelers concerned with protecting their travel investment while planning a stress-free trip.

"The Allianz Global Assistance #HELPME Study is a unique overview of the most widely discussed travel-related topics by Internet users in 11 countries (Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany,
Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States) as posted in traveler forums in the past five years. For each country, five to ten travel forums were selected from the most highly ranked sites and millions of comments were analyzed. Among other findings, a close analysis of these comments and their classification into different themes reveal the wide diversity of traveler concerns, varying from one geographical area to another.