While the internet has risen to be the second biggest source of trip planning, more traditional sources such as travel agents, guidebooks and traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines) are losing out.
On the other hand, social media as a source of travel advice is still not matching the hype and effort that’s being put into it by travel brands.
These are the results of “Flash Eurobarometer,” a yearly study of European tourism attitudes conducted by research agency TNS on behalf of the European Commission.
The study this year was conducted in January in 28 Member States of the European Union, along with Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Montenegro, and Israel, with 31,122 telephone respondents from different social and demographic groups.
The question: what were the sources of information they considered most important when making decisions about their travel plans?
The chart below compares this year to last year and shows that over half (56%) mention the recommendations of friends, colleagues or relatives, while 46% mention Internet websites.
Less than one in ten mentioned paid-for guidebooks and magazines (7%), social media sites (7%) and newspapers, radio or TV (8%). Respondents are allowed to give more than one answer.
Results broken down by nationality:
- Personal recommendations are the most important sources of information for respondents in 25 countries, in particular Latvia (72%), Ireland (67%), and the Czech Republic (66%).
- Websites are the most important sources of information for respondents in nine countries, led by Finland (66%), the Netherlands (61%) and Luxembourg (57%).
- Almost three in ten respondents in Spain (29%) think that travel agencies or tourism offices are important sources of information, followed closely by people in Austria (27%) and Belgium (26%). In contrast, only 5% of respondents in Norway and 7% in Bulgaria say this is important.
- Newspaper, radio, or TV are relatively important sources for respondents in Finland (13%) and Latvia (12%); people in Austria and Germany (both 11%) are the most likely to mention paid-for guidebooks or magazines; and social media sites are relatively significant sources for respondents in Sweden (14%) and Norway (13%).
Meanwhile, on socio-demographic breakdown there are a number of interesting subtexts:
- Both men and women mention personal recommendations as the most important information source when making decisions about travel plans, though women are slightly more likely to do so (58% vs. 54%), while men are more likely to mention Internet websites (49% vs. 42%). Women are also more likely to mention travel agencies (22% vs. 17% for men).
- The younger the respondents, the more likely they are to regard recommendations from friends, colleagues or relatives as important: 67% of 15- 24 year-olds mention this, compared to 44% of those aged 55 and over. Unsurprisingly, the youngest respondents are also the most likely to mention social media sites (15% vs. 3% of people aged 55 and over).
- Respondents aged 55 and over are much less likely than younger respondents to mention internet websites (28% vs. 52%-59% for other age groups), but are the most likely to mention tourism offices/travel agencies (22% vs. 16% of 25-39 year-olds).