Almost 40% of holidaymakers did not spend much time planning their last holiday because they had been to the destination before. And less than a third visited a travel agent to plan a break, according to market research company Key Note’s Holiday Purchasing Patterns Market Assessment 2009 report.

The report also found the travel industry is dealing with more sophisticated and experienced holidaymakers.

In total, 37.4% – the highest response from a sample of 1,000 adults carried out by NEMS Market Research in February for Key Note – said not much planning had been involved in their last holiday.

Using a traditional method of planning – a brochure – came second, from 36.8% of respondents. The report added: “Brochure usage applies mainly to the foreign holiday market, where consumers need more information than when organising a self-drive domestic holiday.”

Using an airline website was a close third, at 36.5%, followed by a recommendation by a friend or relative (33.6%), and using a hotel website (31%).

In comparison, fewer holidaymakers – 28.4% – visited a travel agency to plan their holiday, and almost as many, 24.2%, used an agent’s website.

The lowest score for planning a holiday was using Teletext, or other TV information, at 11.4%.

The results contrast with last year’s figures from the Target Group Index (TGI) on sources of information for holidays in 2006, 2007 and 2008, which showed the web to be the highest source of information, while having been to the destination came third.

The TGI survey showed that last year, 24.9% used the internet to plan a holiday in the past 12 months, up from 16.1% in 2006; 10.1% had been to the destination before, compared to 9.9% in 2006; 8.6% went to an agency, compared to 11.4% in 2006; and 6.8% used a brochure, compared to 8.5% in 2006.

A Key Note survey by NEMS Market Research, conducted in December 2008, also put using the internet to research holidays near the top of all web activities – 55.7% of a sample of 1,000 adults went online to research and book travel, which was second only to comparing prices before buying something, at 60.4%.


More from the Key Note report