Travelers are increasingly booking activities before transportation or lodging
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03 April 2019

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Source: David|3 April 2019

New research by Phocuswright finds that as it's getting easier to find and book activities online, many American travelers are choosing to lock in the activities for their trip before settling on transportation and lodging choices.

Obviously this trend has implications for the marketing of hotels and airlines as well as attractions.

In a survey of 1428 activity-bookers, Phocuswright found these reasons for pre-trip booking of activities:

  1. Wanted to book all activities in advance (mentioned by 38%)
  2. Easier to book online than in destination
  3. Less expensive to book online
  4. Committed to doing specific activity
  5. Limited tickets available
  6. Committed to specific activity time
  7. To skip ticket line
  8. No advantage to booking in destination
  9. Not bookable in destination

Key insights:

  • Some travelers are planners who tend to book activities in advance; others are not, and book at last minute.
  • Ticketed events, sporting events and cultural activities - activities with limited capacity and time slots - are most likely to be booked pre-trip.
  • Activities that are an important reason for the trip (sporting events, mentioned by 37%; amusement or theme park visit, by 32%) are the activities most likely to be booked before booking hotel or transportation.
  • More than 3 out of 4 in-destination activity bookings occur on the day of the activity, or the day before. Activities most likely to be booked last-minute include:
    • Amusement parks and zoos, because easier to book in-destination
    • Museums and performances, so as not to have to commit to a time

Personality types: Planners vs. Movers

Over at Personality Lingo you can find some further insights into Spontaneous ("Mover") and Planner ("Planner") personalities that might be helpful in writing ad copy.

Mover characteristics:

  • Adventurous
  • Restless
  • Spontaneous
  • Short attention span
  • Want instant gratification, find quickest way to get things done
  • Prefer being surprised to knowing what's happening next
  • Core value: freedom

Planner characteristics:

  • Reliable
  • Want to be safe and secure
  • Create contingency plans
  • Thrive on predictability
  • Once committed, resist change
  • Core value: responsibility

Example application:

If you have a museum, since Phocuswright finds that Planners don't generally book museum visits in advance - so prospects are operating as Movers - there would be little point in trying to sell bookings days or weeks in advance - rather pitch convenient opening hours, no reservations required, etc.

Whereas if you're putting on a conference, with a specific time slot, limited capacity and need to plan for refreshments, you'll want to make every effort to get tickets sold as far in advance as possible - offer early-bird rates, make admission expensive for last-minute Movers - because it's the Planners that will make or break your event.


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David Boggs    - David
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External Article: https://www.phocuswright.com/Travel-Research/Research-Updates/2019/How-US-travelers-book-activities-and-experiences


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