Image: Marcelo Cáceres

APEX Insight: A recent Expedia survey sheds light onto the vacation habits of Americans and Canadians. Opportunities exist for airlines and travel brands to gain market share among increasingly information-savvy passengers.

Expedia’s survey of North American travel habits found some interesting differences and similarities between Canadians and Americans that can serve as interaction cues for airlines and travel brands. While family visits and relaxation top the list of reasons for North American travel, Americans take more holidays that are shorter in duration, compared to Canadians.

When traveling for pleasure, 59% of Canadian respondents ventured abroad; as opposed to just 18% of Americans. In line with that statistic, Americans were more likely than Canadians to take a road trip rather than a plane flight, though air travel was more than twice as popular overall.

When planning their next getaway, North American travelers aren’t using airlines’ own websites as often as they seek travel info through third parties. This could be due in part to the perceived shortcomings in user experience (UX) that are associated with airline websites. Less than a third of North Americans cite airline websites as influencers in decision-making, while search engines, online travel agencies (OTAs) and review websites dominate the process. The survey found OTAs to be the most popular resource in travel planning among North Americans. American travelers were slightly more likely to seek inspiration through social media, including posts from brands. Brick-and-mortar travel agencies only appeared on the radar for 14% of American respondents and 15% of Canadians.

While North Americans uniformly looked for the best deal when booking, Americans responded more positively than Canadians to messaging from travel brands: informative and visually-appealing content was nearly as important as the deal itself. The presence of rich content, a relatively recent trend that’s gaining momentum, appears to be paying off.

Since activities and experiences dominate traveler sentiment when planning the next trip, the case for richer destination info is strengthened even further for airlines and travel brands. Since travelers are booking with their desktop and laptop computers and switching to mobile devices upon reaching their destinations, brands can use that behavioral information to tailor their website’s UX and marketing strategies.

Jordan juggles deadlines across various time zones as he writes about travel, culture, entertainment, and technology.