According to a new travel trends report, the most popular way for finding airfare deals is to head straight to an airline’s website versus a meta travel search engine like Kayak, Skyscanner and Expedia.
In a survey of 2,500 travelers across North America by air travel intelligence company OAG (Official Aviation Guide of the Airways), 41 percent said they begin their homework by heading straight to their favorite airline website or app in search of seat sales and airfare deals.
Airline websites hold a healthy lead over online travel agencies or meta search engines which are starting points for 28 percent of travelers.
Only 10 percent said they turn to Google Flights, a relative newcomer in the online booking landscape, and that figure dips even lower for traditional travel agents at four percent.
“The data indicates that despite the prevalence of OTAs (online travel agents) and third-party search options, the majority of travelers still believe their best bet for top fares and offers is direct from the airline,” reads the report.
“There’s also a likely correlation to airlines with strong airport hub strategies,” the report adds. “Travelers know the airlines that regularly offer the most options and best pricing from their home airport, and start their searches accordingly.”
While Google Flights may only hold 10 percent of the travel market share today, analysts predict that Google’s share is poised to grow quickly, given the level of interest in a key demographic: millennials, who are more than twice as likely as the general population to start their search process with Google Flights, an indicator that Google’s popularity will continue to grow as millennials age, the report notes.
When travelers were asked how airlines and travel providers could improve the search process, the most popular answers were increased transparency on price fluctuations over time, and more accurate information on flight connection times.
When presented with airfares equal in price and schedule, 43 percent of travelers said the deciding factor when booking a flight would be on-time performance.
“This is likely due to the proliferation of tech-savvy travelers, who are no longer relying on airlines as much for entertainment and amenities,” the report reads. JB