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Guest Post: How short-haul and long-haul customer buying habits differ

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Guest Post: How short-haul and long-haul customer buying habits differ

By Keith Hodges, account manager at POLARIS

Whatever the target is for travel companies, there’s a need to ensure there is understanding of user journeys and buying trends.

This allows a company to be in the right location at critical parts of the search cycle. Buying trends differ hugely when considering the difference between long haul and short haul buyers – notably seen in the way search and, ultimately, online purchase journeys work.

Micro Moments

In all areas of travel, we see micro moments happening, whereby users ‘dream’ about a holiday with a search, acting on information from external sources (such as recommendations) to carry out a search.

Within short-haul there seems to be more ‘I-want-to-get-away’ micro moment searches, these are people looking on impulse for a holiday and potentially looking to book quickly.  Within long-haul this period of the buying journey lasts much longer. The dreaming phase takes time as those travelling for 12-15 hours for a holiday want to make more of an informed choice, particularly where cost is concerned.

A similar trend can be seen in ‘Take-time-to-plan’ moments as well when users carry out further research on pricing, excursions and packages to ensure the best deals. Short-haul holiday-goers are happier to research and book separate elements to save themselves money.

Searches such as flight times to Sydney are also prevalent in long-haul buyers. So optimising a website for micro-moment searches here could also be a benefit.

flight-duration

Adventure Searchers

According to data from BDRC continental the increase in popularity for adventure based holidays has seen an increase in long haul holiday bookings.

This not only impacts the type of booking received, it also changes the way in which users engage with websites.

For example, users from the UK searching for variations of mountain climbing terms has increased somewhat in the last few years:

graph

Within these searches longer haul fliers are searching for terms such as:

  • Climbing a mountain in….
  • Mountain climbing in…
  • How high is…
  • How difficult is…

Not all of the searches are direct sales searches, but they are an option for branding which should always be considered as part of an SEO strategy.

Notably, these searches (from Generation Y) differ in how they are conducted – the social media age has led to the 20-24 year old age group fearing ‘missing out’ on seeing the world, thus increasing online and on-the-go interest in experiences.

Although specific to adventure holidays, this data highlights again the greater detail users go into when searching for a long haul flight.

Countering this, short haul flyers are more likely to know a bit more about what they want from a location – it could simply be a visit to a town or city – and are more likely to use online review sites to influence a decision. In fact, 7 in 10 said they would check a hotel or attraction on a third party review system before confirming a booking.

Tapping Into Your Target Searchers

Of course, the trick is to ensure you capture target users. Success starts with understanding your market to be able to understand your user. For example, knowing what a user heading to Rome is going to be thinking about in terms of attractions, reviews and pricing, will allow a company to target specific users at specific points in the sales journey.

About the author: Keith Hodges joined  POLARIS in 2014. He specialises in SEO and campaign strategy and works across many of POLARIS’s key accounts.

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