Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Thu May 14 2015

Engaging the UK Traveler Online

Travel Technology | Ryan Rudnansky | May 14, 2015

Engaging the UK Traveler Online

Photo courtesy of British Airways

A new study from Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of Expedia, Inc., examines how U.K. travelers absorb content on the Internet and book online, as compared to United States travelers.

Entitled “UK Travel Decisions in a Multiscreen World,” the 58-page study shows just how important technology has become in the global travel industry. It also shows how U.K. travelers could potentially be more rewarding to the travel industry than their U.S. counterparts.

According to the study, based on a survey by comScore, nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of the 48 million people in the U.K. engaging with digital content across smartphones, tablets and PCs are interacting with travel-related content, compared to less than two-thirds (63 percent) in the United States.

Not only that, the U.K. travel audience is more engaged than the U.S. travel audience across most travel categories, with the exception of travel information and car rentals.

With that in mind, the study delves deeper into the U.K. traveler.

Tablet vs. PC

For one, it’s important for marketers to know that the U.K. traveler is more tablet-friendly than his U.S. counterpart, but less PC-friendly.

For example, at least 41 percent of U.K. travelers use a tablet across each of the four travel stages: researching destinations, shopping for air/hotel, planning trip activities and during the trip. Tablets were used the most in America while researching destinations, but even then, only 28 percent of U.S. travelers used a tablet (compared to 51 percent of U.K. travelers).

On top of that, over one-third (36 percent) of tablet owners in the U.K. have booked travel on their tablet in the past six months (compared to 16 percent who have booked via their smartphone). Moreover, nine out of 10 travelers who have booked travel on their tablet plan to do so again (compared to six in 10 for smartphone users).

On the flip side, PC usage dominates the trip-planning process for Americans. In the U.K., mobile travel content visitors (29 million) actually outnumber PC travel content visitors (25 million).

U.K. tablet users are also more likely to see and intentionally click on online ads than U.K. smartphone users (21 percent, compared to 13 percent).

Smartphones/Mobile Ownership

That’s not to say the smartphone is irrelevant in the U.K, of course. In fact, U.K. travelers are more likely to access travel-related content in a given month via the smartphone (73 percent), compared to the PC (55 percent) and tablet (37 percent).

Mobile ownership continues to rise in the United Kingdom. About three in four U.K. travelers own a PC and a smartphone and a tablet, roughly a 25 percent increase from 2014, according to the study. Nearly half of the U.K. travel audience engages with travel via both their PC and mobile devices. Among the 25 million U.K. consumers who access travel content via their mobile devices monthly, 70 percent do so only with their smartphone, while 14 percent use both a smartphone and a tablet.

But how are U.K. travelers engaging with their travel content? Where should travel marketers be targeting?

Where/When to Market?

According to the study, 81 percent of U.K. tablet users access travel content via their browser. On top of that, 66 percent of U.K. smartphone users use their browser to tap into the travel world.

That being said, mobile apps are still important. U.K. travel app users tend to be very loyal. More than one in five (21 percent) smartphone users and 10 percent of tablet users access travel content only through travel apps.

When marketing to mobile users, it’s important to know that mobile usage peaks during primetime (PC usage leads engagement during work hours).

Who to Target?

According to the study, luxury travelers and business travelers are more likely to be swayed by online travel content.

U.K. business travelers were significantly more likely to intentionally click on mobile ads via both the tablet (39 percent) and the smartphone (23 percent) than the family, budget or luxury traveler.

Luxury travelers were most likely to actually book via the tablet (64 percent) and smartphone (35 percent) than any other traveler group.

Above All, U.K. Travelers Just Wanna Have Fun

One last interesting little tidbit of information: Of the U.K. travelers who eventually booked online, 35 percent looked on travel sites for fun at least weekly (43 percent did so at least monthly).

What should that tell travel marketers?

Perhaps some U.K. travelers will initially visit travel sites for pure entertainment, but if you have an engaging travel site, you may just hook them.

To view the full study, visit:


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