Hey oh, let’s go to a trip! The online travel market is constantly growing and finds in the digital component the driving force of the sector with important rates continuously increasing. This is what emerges from the research carried out by the Digital Innovation Observatory in Tourism of the School of Management of the Milan Polytechnic, which aimed to analyze the travel industry in Italy and understand how digital is impacting in this market. For the carrying out of the research, purchases made by Italians towards Italy and abroad, and purchases from abroad made to visit our country have been taken into consideration both.
The entire market is worth € 58.3 billion, of which € 44.1 billion comes from the traditional component, while the remaining €14.2 million concern the digital part. However, the data should not be misleading: if the traditional in 2018 had a + 1% compared to 2017, digital technology grew by 8%. Going into detail, the digital expenditure analyzed has been divided into three objects, accommodations, transports and package tours: it was found that purchases made through eCommerce online were 61% dedicated to transport, for 29% to accomodations and in the end for package tours 10%. On the other hand, by observing the sales tools and channels, those directly online have 71% of the market in hand, while the indirect ones, among which there are the different aggregator sites, are at 29%. 18% of all these communications take place via smartphones, with an impressive growth of + 47% compared to 2017, becoming the main device for the search for information about the destinations (83%).
In fact, only 2% of Italians aged between 18 and 75 years of age did not do online research, further demonstrating how digital is an instrument and sales channel that is fundamental for the sector in various forms and opportunities. We must not forget or underestimate the human component of the relationship between the operators in the sector and the customers: 31% of tourists and travelers rely from the beginning to the end of the process of buying a trip to the agencies. However, it is certain that in a strategic vision more in the long term it is important that digital is considered above all as regards social media, reviews and customer care, to set up a continuous and profitable relationship with its customers, thus increasing its competitiveness.
Competitiveness that if it still finds actors lagging behind the needs and expectations of the customers, is reflected in the destination activities and in the experiential services of the tourist resorts, which make up 26% of the holiday expenditure. Of this expenditure, 24% is purchased through the internet and 42% is done both on the internet and on site.
As already mentioned, the mobile is increasingly the main tool for the purchase of activities, which happens in 66% of cases, often preferring the site in any case compared to the app that may be available to us. The research also reveals interesting data regarding other tools such as chats, used by 10% of travelers, and augmented and virtual reality, tested by 22% of tourists, especially when choosing accommodation or to take a first look at the activities to do, such as attractions and museums - 21%.
From a Google search on trips in 2017, it emerged that travelers go through 4 phases to arrive at the final purchase of an online trip, definable in 4 words: "inspiration", "evaluation", "booking", "experience". There are several factors to consider such as the search words and the periods of the year during which the different phases are more or less intense - for example, the inspirational one is the most between January and May, and in general the whole funnel it ends in December, and for each of the phases it is important to set the most suitable approaches and channels for high performance.
It is therefore essential for the travel market to operate strategically in digital, with an omnichannel view, to offer tourists and travelers who rely increasingly on web support, offers and care, putting them at the center of attention.
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