Over a third of holidaymakers prefer to book a package with one tour operator or agent, according to a massive survey of just over 12,600 people.
The poll, carried out during the voting period for The British Travel Awards 2008, found 26.5% of respondents choose to book a package because it is an easier option and because they expect good offers if they book early enough.
A small number (6.45%) said they book their holiday as a package with an established operator or agent because they don-¬™t feel safe booking the elements of their holiday separately.
The research was carried out in run up to October 2008 when consumers who voted in the The British Travel Awards (over 90,000 votes were cast) were also asked to fill out a survey about booking patterns for 2009.
Respondents were mostly made up of the audience of The Sunday Times, The Sun, LBC Radio, Sky Travel, TripAdvisor and CD-Traveller.
Of the 12,621 fully-completed surveys, 29% of respondents said they book all elements of their holiday independently and online.
Some 47% of consumers said they will book at least one element of their holiday independently, whether it is car hire, airport/hotel transfers, excursions, flights or accommodation.
Over half (54.55%) said they regularly research their holiday and compare prices on the internet before making a booking, with 11.08% seeking a specialist operator online for their destination.
A massive 73% have visited travel-related blog sites to read customer feedback and comments about particular holidays and destinations, while 32% use the internet to compare prices.
Less than 1% have never used the internet to book or research any part of a holiday.
When deciding which holiday to book, 44% of consumers look first at special offers and promotions via TV and press advertising, while 31% of consumers look for high levels of customer service, reputation and reliability.
Less than one in five (18.55%) seek the opinions of travel agents before making their final choice.
Other key findings of the survey were:
HOW OFTEN AND WHERE TO
28.29% said their annual holiday is an essential part of the family budget and they would consider cutting back elsewhere before cancelling their main holiday plans
22% said they would consider reducing the number of breaks they usually take
27.76% opted to holiday outside of the Euro zone
13% of consumers said they would consider a UK-based holiday for the first time in 2009
50.59% consider the cultural benefits and experiences of holiday destinations over and above the typical -¬---sun, sand and sea-¬~ type of holiday
28% look for a different destination for their main holiday each year
39% still cited the opportunity to relax as their main reason for choosing a particular holiday
58% of travellers prefer to set out on holiday with cash in their pockets
19.34% buy their foreign currency from a travel agency
31% buy their currency from an alternative high street retailer
13% go straight to the bank for their holiday money
11% prefer to take travellers cheques
30% rely on their credit cards when abroad
36.92% of customers said price was the most important consideration when buying travel insurance
14% want an insurance policy that is uncomplicated
19.7% choose an insurance provider with an established reputation
13% select an insurance policy specifically chosen for its content and terms of cover
6.24% of families choose short-haul holidays because long-haul flights are difficult with a young family
20.56% choose last-minute special offers
38.34% always book well in advance to ensure availability, the right resort and activities for the children
13.2% of adults with young children try and take a short break without the children as well as their main family holiday each year
21.63% said they would consider an all-inclusive or cruise holiday in 2009, providing entertainment for the children and to enable them to budget expenditure
17.72% still firmly perceive cruises as a luxury holiday choice
6.87% consider cruise as an alternative to their usual type of annual holiday
13.89% consider cruise holidays as mainly for adults
23.87% choose a cruise holiday for the opportunity to visit several destinations without the inconvenience of packing and re-packing suitcases
By Bev Fearis
Wednesday, January 14, 2009