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Digitalization of the travel industry - statistics & facts

Over the past two decades, digitalization has been seen increasingly across most industries worldwide. The travel and tourism industry is no exception, with the emergence of the online travel market and increasing consumer demand for digital travel services. The online travel market includes companies such as online travel agencies (OTAs) – which allow tourists to book travel services autonomously online – and travel review websites. Meanwhile, consumers are also looking for more digital experiences when traveling. These can include options such as virtual tours of a desired destination or accommodation, as well as mobile integration solutions, like using an app to discover new tourist attractions or check-in to a hotel room. As estimated by Statista's Digital Market Outlook, the global revenue of mobile apps in the travel segment rose by 38 percent in 2021 over the previous year, amounting to 296 million U.S. dollars. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could also play a key role in accelerating the digitalization of this sector, with social distancing and hygiene concerns making consumers keener to use digital rather than in-person services. In this respect, a September 2021 study found that roughly four in ten surveyed travelers worldwide indicated contactless mobile payments among the main technologies to increase travel confidence.

Online bookings and online reviews

Digital travel, or digital tourism, refers to the travelers’ use of digital tools during the overall tourism experience. For instance, booking travel products online can be considered part of this digital process. According to Statista’s Global Consumer Survey, hotels, flight tickets, and car rentals were among the main travel products booked online in the United States in 2021. Hotels also topped the list of the preferred travel services booked online in the United Kingdom, but train tickets for long-distance trips were more popular than flight tickets in this case.

Aside from online bookings, reviewing travel destinations, accommodation, and restaurants has become another important aspect of the overall digital tourism experience. From 2014 to 2021, the total number of user reviews and opinions on Tripadvisor, one of the most well-known travel review websites, experienced a fivefold increment. Tourists’ interest in posting and reading online travel tips and comments was confirmed by the fact that Tripadvisor was one of the most visited travel and tourism websites worldwide in January 2022.

Social media and travel influencers

Nowadays, social media websites play an important role within the travel industry, as tourists use these platforms to share online content related to their trips, while companies and influencers use them as a marketing tool, suggesting holiday destinations and advertising travel products. According to a study published in the fourth quarter of 2021, 21 percent of polled U.S. consumers aged 18 to 29 used social media as a source for holiday inspiration, and 18 percent of Spaniards aged 30 to 44 did the same. Meanwhile, roughly two in ten surveyed internet users from an August 2021 global study believed in the effectiveness of influencer marketing in the travel industry.

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