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What is your go-to source for travel information?

Sharing my research into how travellers find out about destinations
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Founder, Wandr

Hi, my name is Benoit and I'm passionate about how technology can disrupt the travel industry and ultimately lead to a better end-user experience.

I have been conducting numerous interviews over the past few weeks to gain insights into the way people curate, organize and share travel content, with the final objective of identifying opportunities to innovate in this space.

I intend to share my preliminary findings across a series of discussions on Travel Massive to engage with the community.

The first topic relates to the main information channels used by travellers to discover a specific destination and learn about where to go and what to do. Below a summary from the interviews:

- Friends / Family: For 67% of interviewees, friends and family’s word-of-mouth play a significant role in picking the next destination and 42% rely on their recommendations to know what to do on the ground.

- Social Media: 75% of interviewees mention social media, and specifically Instagram, as as key channel to spark their interest in traveling to a specific destination. There is an intrinsic relationship with friends / family recommendations as social media serve as a modern word-of-mouth marketing and people tend to value information from people they trust and who have similar interests. However, only 17% are using social media to actively search what to do at a destination.

- Internet search & blogs: 71% of interviewees rely heavily on internet searches and blogs to learn about activities and places of interests at a destination.

- Travel guidebooks: In the era of digital travel information, travel guidebooks remain a significant source of information for 58% of interviewees. Most travellers who still buy print books now seem to read them in conjunction with, not instead of, online resources. For some, guidebooks act as their first go-to source of information after choosing the destination, for pre-trip research and high-level overview. For others, guidebooks will only be opened in the train / plane to the destination to get immersed in the culture or to get some historical background around places they are planning on visiting.

- Other sources: Youtube has also been mentioned as an additional source of information, making the content discovery more immersive. A handful of interviewees are also consulting the free resources available on travel agency websites to help them building an itinerary.

For total transparency and to bring some additional context, the above figures are based on 27 one-to-one interviews with individuals aged 25 to 35. Therefore, results are not representative of the whole population and are biased towards Millennials / Gen Z generations. Those interviews have been conducted to define key trends and behaviours that will be tested at a larger scale and on a wider audience through an online survey.

My question: What are your go-to information channels to learn about a specific destination and what to do on the ground? And why?

Looking forward to engaging discussions on those topics!

7 months ago
Ian
Founder, Travel Massive

Hi Benoit, thanks for sharing your research with our community. Really interesting insights.

I didn’t consider that guide books would be used in conjunction with online research - but that makes total sense thinking about how people might research a trip.

There’s certainly a firehose of travel content on almost every channel - and as people go down the funnel from inspiration to booking I imagine those channels shift in priority / value for travelers.

I believe the biggest disruptor of travel content / planning will be search engines from keyword driven (old) to AI search (new) and a change in how people search on a daily basis.

7 months ago
Travel & Tourism Journalist | Greek Culture & Travel Expert | Founder & Storyteller @ TheGreekVibe.com | Writes for @gtpgr, TheGreekVibe.com

Thank for the very interesting finds! And thanks to all for the feedback. As a traveler I usually look for information on the internet changing around the search words to avoid getting the "X ways to" posts and sites which are basically worse than ads. I also briefly check out TikTok for a real place experiences but do not rely on it. I cross reference. I do not use guide books beforehand but I do once I get there. This problem is a major concern for me also as a travel blogger. On the one hand I want to write about genuine experience and the other you won't get ranked if you don't use the "x ways to" - it's really terrible and creating major distrust among travelers (including myself) for travel blogs.

1 month ago

Thank you for sharing the insights that you have gathered through these 1on1 interviews.
Are there any specific frustrations that were mentioned during these interviews?

Internet search is really powerful, at least in my personal experience, many times i have faced the issue of travel blogs sharing very similar information and as such enhancing the tourist trap.

7 months ago
Founder, Wandr

Hi Simona,
Whatever destination I search on Google, I always end up with the exact same "Top 10-15 things to do" articles on the first search page and it's rather frustrating to go through all of them and reading the exact same information again and again. I usually need to go to the 2nd and 3rd search pages to find more "off-the-beaten-path" recommendations and they are usually provided in blogs. It is probably different from a destination to another depending on the blogging coverage though.

Regarding frustrations mentioned, I have highlighted some of them below:
- Often, blogs will give you contents on a very specific location but what is missing is a more high-level view at a region / country level, with information such as recommended itineraries or "how much time should we spend at each step?"
- Sometimes, blog articles are more of a collection of pictures with very little explanation and context, which is just a waste of time for the reader
- Finding good quality restaurants for a more elaborated meal/dinner once or twice during the trip seems to also be a pain point as it requires sometimes hours of research because Tripadvisor / The Fork / etc. are not considered good enough search tools and are not listing all restaurants. People then use Google Maps and check restaurants one by one until they find a suitable one
- Some people find it also frustrating to juggle between multiple documents / apps like your notes where you saved your places to visit, Google maps to check restaurants and check distances between places, etc.
- And obviously the logistics planning is not something people are usually fan of, like making sure everything is running smoothly from plane boarding to renting the car / catching a train and check-in / out at the accommodation.

7 months ago
Strategy & Operations

For city trips or familiar destinations (visited at least 1x before) i use significantly less information sources than new destinations. A new destination also depends on the trip type, e.g; A big city i'd much more likely watch youtube, insta and read articles like 36hrs in X, or some kind of time-out article. For a destination or multi-destination trip that i've never been to before I'll be much more intentional by watching for example Bourdain's stuff, or travel blogs/documentaries of longer format to get a feel for what it would be like and what I'd need to organize.

7 months ago
Founder, Wandr

Hi Isaac, many thanks for your contribution! Are you using any particular support to save and put together all the places of interests you have identified through your searches?

7 months ago
Strategy & Operations

To be honest, Google sheets for travel planning. Once i'm in destination I store all places on a Google Maps List so I have all the geo locations stored for directions.

7 months ago

Wow super interesting content! Did they mention something about Tiktok? I usually look for 'secret City' to get secret spots asides of tourist attractions from Google.

Can you share with us the different social media platform percentages?

7 months ago
Founder, Wandr

Hi Sole,

TikTok was definitely mentioned by some interviewees as being their favourite social media for content discovery but it remains a minority of people. 83% were active Instagram users while only 16% were using Tiktok. But again, those figures are based on a relatively small number of interviews and younger people might use TikTok more. A handful of people sometimes use Pinterest for travel content discovery as well. Facebook is mainly used to share pictures with family and friends for 25% of interviewees, rather than for travel search.
I am planning on opening a discussion with a particular focus on social media use to share my findings in more details.

7 months ago

Interesting info, thx for sharing.
\
Another discussion would be great!
Let me know if I can help you with something :)

7 months ago
Community Manager in Travel Platform

Hi Benoit. I've been doing similar research focused on Gen Z travel habits in order to identifying opportunities in the travel space. Here are some of my considerations:

Biggest influences in determining choices of destinations:
- Reviews on websites
- Recommendations from friends & family
- Word-of-mouth
- Photos on Social Media
- Online reviews

Worth mentioning:
-> Gen Z is the most eco-aware generation in history
-> They're optimistic about the benefit travel has to local economies
-> They're socially aware & responsible
-> VR will satisfy the curiosity of travelers willing to go to places limited by Unesco due to mass tourism

Hope it helps in your research :)

7 months ago
Founder, Wandr

Hi Maria,
Thank you for contributing and for sharing your considerations. With regards to the influences in determining choices of destinations, this reflects exactly what came out of my multiple interviews. Recommendations from your close circle as well as feedback from your peers (mostly through reviews) are key factors in decision making.

I do agree a strong focus on sustainability will be required going forward and we are already seeing the emergence of eco-conscious accommodation booking platforms or the addition of new filters on the websites of the market incumbents. I remain a bit sceptical on VR and Web3 applications at the moment but I am very curious to learn about the disruption potential and I will closely follow the development of Wytland!

7 months ago
Community Manager in Travel Platform

GenZ is tech-native, so they're searching for ways to improve their experience online combined with their own values: community-based, independent, meaningful connections...

I see Web3 as a result of those values, being an internet that thrives with community engagement and moderation, without depending on big companies that not exactly share their same values.

VR, AI, Metaverse... has come as a way of creating meaningful connections through immersive experiences. Right now, everything is almost seen as a game, but the real potential of metaverse, for example, can disrupt internet as we know.

And what I just love about the potential of VR and Metaverse for GenZ tourism is that it allows them to explore places, even though virtually, that they could not go in person (e.g. Machu Picchu that was closed due to negative effects of mass tourism) and they're happy to find this alternative while helping to protect an important historical site.

I'm very bullish on the potential of blockchain, web3 and virtual realities for the future of travel industry. Feel free to check what we're building at WYTLAND and share some more insights with us :)

7 months ago
Co - Founder of Textomap.com, Textomap

I have to add to what has been said here. Instagram an TikTok posts have become a major place for inspiration and recommendations. You can quickly browse the short videos that really show you restaurants and attractions that are new

7 months ago
Visual Creative, As Is LLC

These are some great points. I have to say I agree with the repetitiveness of certain information especially on a basic google search. I have found that I prefer to engage in content that is more story based and not just "the top 5 things to see in xyz." I am not so much concerned with how to get somewhere vs how I may be impacted by the culture. As a solo traveler I do my best to get as much of the basics down, but I too am over the same content being released especially for someone like myself who emphasizes the importance of having your own unique experience. I have not used a guidebook in sometime, but this thread is making me reconsider because I have found that they do provide a lot more information. I don't usually care to know about specific restaurants or must sees unless it truly is significant to the location and the culture.

6 months ago