As of 2010, the global travel industry contributed 9.2 percent of the world's total gross domestic product, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. People travel for work, to visit family and friends and for pleasure. When it comes to making choices about where and how to travel, multiple factors influence travel and tourism consumer behavior.
Travel is often seen as a luxury, and when people are earning less or worried about earning less, they may eliminate travel from their budgets. As the world economy struggled in 2009 and into 2010, the travel industry suffered along with other businesses.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, global travel and tourism was down nearly 5 percent in 2009, specifically due to a struggling economy. Still, as the economy bounces back, the tourism industry will as well. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts a 3.2 percent growth in the travel and tourism industry in 2011.
Internet and Social Media
Consumers have instant access to reviews and opinions about travel spots and accommodations around the world, as well as airlines, car rental agencies and other related travel companies. More and more, people turn to the Internet to research potential trips and seek out bargains. Thus, the Internet and social media can influence consumers' travel choices.
According to The Digital Letter, reviews on sites like TripAdvisor "can make or break a destination." Prospective travelers can read reviews and find out if others found the hotel to be clean and the staff courteous, or if the "service [they will] receive is worthy of [their] time and money."
The Digital Letter points out that travelers can learn everything they want to know about a destination in a matter of minutes on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. While a business's website can also play a factor in consumer choice, if independent online reviews aren't consistent with the company's claims, travelers are likely to make a different selection.
Even with a bad economy, some people still need or want to travel. In 2010, savvy travelers have many ways to find deals online and cut their costs before heading out the door. Airlines offer online specials for discount flights and last-minute trips, and companies such as Kayak exist solely to gather the best travel deals on the Internet into one place, so shoppers can compare prices. Travelers no longer need to rely on the standard price for transportation or accommodations. They may now make their travel choices based solely on price.