8 min.
5 Stages of Online Traveler Behavior
1L’art de la gestion de projet2Un projet à succès commence par une bonne gouvernance3Cascade, agilité, demandes de changement?

5 Stages of Online Traveler Behavior

Business Strategy
I'm leaving for Malaysia on Friday for a month-long trip and being passionate about my job (and fervent follower of lists), I was able to empirically identify 5 stages of the behavior of an online traveler. These stages are similar to the traveler cycle presented by Lonely Planet .  



My girlfriend is a remedial teacher and therefore, on vacation all summer. For my part, I was able to negotiate 1 month of vacation, I would like to thank Jef and Simon for that! 😉 So we have the approximate dates and duration, now let's start our decision-making process (I told my girlfriend verbatim).  


My girlfriend and I are two relatively experienced backpackers and we were hesitating between Malaysia, Indonesia or the Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia trip. We therefore began our collection of information by spending a few winter weekend days reading about the various destinations in Renaud-Bray. We then completed it by consulting the Routard and Lonely Planet sites . The objective was to compare the tourist offers of each and the feasibility for a period of one month. And There you go! Our destination was chosen, in Malaysia we will go!   


We went to Kayak , an airline ticket price comparator, to find the best deal available. What is good with this site is the display of the period of price fluctuation and according to this, Kayak offers us the best dates. We also compared different flight routes, namely Montreal-Kuala Lumpur and Montreal-Singapore, allowing us to discover that Montreal-Singapore was the best option. We saved over $300! More concretely, it is estimated that in 2007, 55% of Americans bought a ticket online. Thus in 2008, the income linked to the online travel industry without intermediaries in the USA exceeded 105 billion US dollars .    


We obviously bought the Footprint guides  and Lonely Planet to define the main activities of the trip. We quickly noticed that we needed more information, more photos, more advice. So we went to the respective sites of the guides. It's Footprint that disappointed me the most: no forum, no additional information, no photos, nothing. Total angst! It is only a site that promotes its guides, nothing more. What a missed loyalty opportunity, what a lack of vision. Lonely Planet offers information similar to that offered in its guide, but there are more photos and video reports on certain regions. On the other hand, their TreeThorn forum is a pure disaster. It is not very intuitive and does not allow undirected research on a given theme. We also consulted the tourist sites of the various regions considered, without success. Little information was relevant. Again, a great missed opportunity.

We turned once again to the Routard forum , which is always well fed by its generous community offering good advice. The search engine is however deficient and strict. One has to do the search by Google in order to find the right information. We also consulted travel forum offering the same advantages and disadvantages as that of Routard. The difference of the latter consists in offering the possibility of consulting photos in the discussion threads. Great! On the other hand, the prize for relevance goes to TripAdvisor   thanks to reviews (reviews), articles, forums, GoTolist, we had a ton of often very relevant information. All content is identified by a rating allowing us to properly assess its quality. We also found good recommendations for tourist services including national parks and scuba diving services.

We also validate all proposed destinations by viewing images on Flickr. I invite you to contemplate Semporna , Gunung Mulu , Batu and the Perhentian Islands . Jealous? I hope!     

My girlfriend, always more far-sighted than me, asks me if I miss the main vaccines for Malaysia. I consult info-santé, health canada, and I can't find anything. I was able to find the list of vaccines available on the Doctissimo forum . I arrived at the clinic well informed, but poorly documented. I lost my vaccination card with the photo of the growing child's face. What a beautiful work of art, but so inappropriate. I wonder when the government will computerize our medical records. When will a health insurance card with a bar code? 

I ended this search with Google City Tours beta given to me by my new colleague Karine Miron. I must say that I like the proposed routes, but it only offers museums or exhibition halls. However, you can add places to visit. Once well established, this application could be a great complement to travel guide sites and even a tool for travel agents.  

I then noted our route on one of my Google Maps as a supplement to my girlfriend's travel diary. Our parents and friends will also know where we are and will be able to die of jealousy!  


The itinerary is now completed, the activities are found, we just have to find accommodation. We don't usually book our accommodation in advance. However, we compared several hostels offered in the guides on the Hostel and TripAdvisor sites. Both classify hostels by user rating. The price or the number of stars are not the only filter elements. A three star hotel may have a higher rating than a five star hotel. It is the voice of the consumer that has predominance over these last variables. The comments of other travelers also complement the information on the hotel. Still, 40% of travelers use user-generated content to plan their trip      and their content has twice as much influence as a company's brand when selecting a hotel.


Like any good traveler, I will reciprocate what has helped me and I will post my itinerary on the forums, answer questions and share my photos. For all travelers, the photo becomes a crucial element, it keeps immortalizes a landscape, a scene, a joke, a memory! Still, all my photos will go on Flickr, well classified, labeled and registered in pools, because what we like to do with photos is to share them with our parents, our friends and other enthusiasts. I will list the best places, hotels and restaurants on the forums. In short, the community spirit of travelers is based on advice and the sharing of good shots. Social platforms such as forums, blogs, social media, evaluation systems have enabled them to make their advice sustainable and benefit a majority . In fact, over 70% of Internet users share their travel experience online . 


Canadians are getting more information online from their peers before making purchases.  The number of minutes spent comparing products ( comparison shopping ) increased by  81% in 1 year, going from 3.6 to 6.5 minutes . Additionally, 69% of online Canadians find social media tools, such as  social shopping , user ratings and feedback, to  be important in understanding the features of a new service or product.. So I followed the trend, a heavy trend towards which the tourism industry must lean. What surprised me the most at each of these stages is the almost ubiquitous absence of travel agencies, hotels, national and regional tourism promotion managers or other tourism providers, particularly on social platforms. Users have made up for the lack of information provided on official sites. Moreover, the stages of this behavior are part of a strong trend.