Research Review: The Role of Print in the Travel Planning Process, 2009 - 2014

Director of Research and Online Marketing
Published 7/10/14
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Print continues to play an important role in travel planning

We wanted to share a short summary of leading research on the use of print by US Travelers, both today and its trends over the last 5+ years. With the increasing rise in the use of digital devices by travelers we often hear from industry partners that “print is dead” (or dying). However, independent research on the subject shows otherwise.

Indeed the authoritative State of the American Traveler research over the last 5+ years highlights that print usage has slightly increased (2009 - 2014) and print publications continue to have an important role in the travel planning process.

Review a summary of media usage research from the State of the American Traveler, 2009 - 2014*

A few key takeaways

  1. Print usage by visitors is NOT in decline, but in fact has been growing slowly over the last five years. We have moved from a “Mass Media” environment to a new, complex online/offline media environment. Travelers are using ‘Masses of Media.”
  2. Mobile (smartphone) use in travel planning has been growing strongly but only this year (January 2014) has reached the penetration of print amongst US leisure travelers (45%).
  3. Print usage spans the generations; for example, Gen Y travelers are almost as likely as Baby Boomers to order an official visitor guide.

Conclusion

Print usage among US leisure travelers remains strong but there is clear evidence that its role is changing in the trip planning process. With the rise of mobile, its place as an “in market” information source is likely to decrease with an increasing emphasis on the all-important inspiration and dreaming stages of travel planning.

Print publications with an in-market element to their use will need to increasingly look to complement mobile sources of information, especially in markets with a younger skew (Generations X and Y) to their visitors.

*This summary comes from The State of the American Traveler, conducted by Destination Analysts and sponsored since its inception by Miles. This survey of American leisure travelers is undertaken every January and July, has a sample size of 2,000 and the last several editions can be found in our library. 

  • The January 2014 edition of the State of the American Traveler can be found here 
  • More on Destination Analysts and The State of the American Traveler can be found on their website.