Looking before booking: Survey reveals travel planning & buying habits

Today’s travelers make online research, comparison shopping, and paying for the trip in advance almost as essential as packing a suitcase, according to our annual travel survey.

More than 75% of U.S. travelers check three or more websites to research trips before they book travel. As they consider price, 2 in 3 travelers frequently compare prices at online travel agencies with those on airline, hotel, and rental car brand sites. 

Timing of payments and overall price also take priority in planning a trip, as these survey results suggest: 

  • Having a vacation paid off before the trip begins is very important for 56% of travelers.

  • About two-thirds of respondents would be likely or very likely to take a vacation if they could pay for it over time.

  • Almost 70% are uncomfortable spending more than $2,000 on a vacation.

These financial considerations may help travel companies as they craft marketing strategies to attract more customers in the lucrative travel market. Last year, direct spending by domestic and international travelers was $761 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

“Paying for a trip over time—and being done even before you depart—are great ways to get in vacation mode,” said Greg Fisher, Chief Marketing Officer for Affirm. “These payment options can ease worries about a trip’s affordability, so it’s no surprise customers prefer travel brands that offer more payment options.”

In fact, many travel companies have seen benefits from offering Affirm’s pay-over-time options to customers. Alternative Airlines saw a 42% lift in AOV for Affirm purchases compared to non-Affirm bookings during a three-month period. Similarly, CheapAir realized a 54% increase in AOV after implementing Affirm.

The Affirm survey, which was conducted in June 2019 with 1,051 U.S. adults, also uncovered these details about how consumers plan and book travel today:

  • For 71% of travelers, booking a trip directly with an airline, hotel, or rental car brand (as opposed to a third-party site) is preferred. 

  • Almost half (48%) frequently book travel using a mobile phone.

Comparison shopping and affordability remain big drivers for vacation planning among today’s consumers. Travel brands that optimize for transparency in costs, preparation details, and payment flexibility stand to succeed in attracting a larger base of U.S. travel customers.

Learn more about how your business can work with Affirm to help customers pay over time.