Expedia Media Solutions partnered with ComScore during the summer of 2013, surveying over 1,000 US Adults who had traveled in the previous past 6 months, and owned a desktop/laptop, tablet or smartphone. The report “Understanding the role of content in the travel purchase path” sheds some insightful details of how travelers consume and share content prior to, during and after a trip.

Total Travel Minutes Are Increasing Across DevicesFor one thing, online travel spending and mobile travel content consumption is rising, but not replacing the PC. Thus, marketers are challenged with more opportunities to engage with travelers. Some other findings:

  • Online content consumption is growing at a rapid pace, as consumers are spending 93% more time with online content than they did three years ago.
  • Online travel spending was up 8% YoY (year-over-year), reaching $58 Billion through the first half of 2013.
  • Total mobile travel minutes have increased by 45% YoY while PC travel minutes have only increased by 2% YoY.

Travel Buyer Reach Per Type Of Website

Another interesting point was that content is available and being accessed by consumers across more platforms and channels than ever before. Not surprisingly coming from an Expedia Solutions study, online travel agencies were found to be an important source across all platforms and throughout all stages of the booking process. That said, this report also sheds some key insights on the role of social media (Facebook) before, during and after the trip, and what types of content work best, i.e. organic vs paid.

  • During the booking process, 26% of travel buyers were exposed to travel-related content on Facebook, with 23% exposed to paid content and 9% exposed to organic.
  • 28% of total travel minutes are consumed on mobile devices and 24% of travelers access travel content exclusively on mobile devices.
  • Online travel agencies (OTAs) are visited by 80% of travelers during the booking process and the average number of OTA visits during each phase exceeds that of any other category.

Different types of content resonate with and will be shared by consumers at specific points and on specific platforms throughout the content journey.

  • 55% of travelers seek hotel and accommodation information, and it is the most commonly sought content across all decisionstages when taking PC and mobile consumption into account.
  • Weather and climate information, followed by restaurant reviews, are most likely to be accessed on mobile, at 46% and 44%, respectively.
  • Image content is used 37% of the time during the travel decision process, which is more than twice as much as videos, at only 18%.
  • Upon return, 45% of travelers will post travel-related content on social media or write reviews.
  • At 64%, social media photos are most likely to be published from a laptop, followed by smartphones at 45% and tablets at 16%.

The importance of visuals in the travel decision-making processIt’s no wonder destinations, airlines, hotels and most travel marketers are embracing social networks such as Pinterest, but also photo/video applications such as Instagram and Vine, as part of their storytelling toolkit, reaching out to growing crowds of travelers. Expect more photos and videos coming your way from your favorite destination or travel brand in 2014!

To download the full report, click here