10 Temmuz 2017 Pazartesi

The Digital Age Of Vacation Planning

With the coming of summer, everyone is looking forward for the time of that magical escape where they will take a vacation to come. Even though it is called the “summer vacation”, the process begins way before the actual trip takes place: The debate on where to go or where to stay starts months beforehand. This process, though exciting it may be, can really be very tiresome in some cases. Uncertainties such as not knowing yet where to go, how to get there and what will be found once the destination is reached worry most people and one needs to do research and gather information, in other words, allocate time and make an effort for coming up with the answers to those questions...

That being the case, this painful process can last longer than the actual vacation itself most of the time.

With the purpose of providing a remedy for their problems, lots of conventional and innovative tools to aid people in planning their vacations have emerged – and are growing in numbers with each passing day. It is possible to access all kinds of information on vacation planning on a variety of platforms from books to newspaper supplements, websites or smart phone apps.

In addition to the “all inclusive” services provided by the tourism agencies, a vast majority of vacation planning is now done online. Most websites can give detailed answers on flight and hotel reservations or what to do there when we arrive at our destination. Along with platforms like TripAdvisor, Booking, Expedia, Kayak and Lonely Planet, according to an article in New York Times, the websites are now classified according to their scope. For example, Priceline that has recently incorporated Kayak.com creates a difference in ticket purchasing transaction by recommending you to buy immediately or wait further based on their price forecasting algorithm.

Travelocity, a sub-company of Expedia, not only reimburses you the difference if you find a cheaper ticket or car rental than can be found on their website but also pays you an additional 50$. There also are websites that answer all kinds of questions and meet all kinds of needs like Travel & Leisure for getting information about our place of destination.    

The market keeps on growing at an increasing rate and becoming diversified with the smart phone apps as well as the websites. According to a research conducted in 2015 by TripAdvisor - one of the biggest vacation apps in the world - that comprised of 44,000 people around the world, 42% of vacationers do definitely use their smart phones at one point during their vacation planning. These people are defined as “Connected Travelers”.

These ever-increasing smart phone apps serve different phases of the vacation operation. While some apps are only applicable in the booking step, some others are focused more on the fun parts of the vacation.

The cheap ticket app Hopper, one of the apps used for flight booking, allows you to economize on the ticket fare by recommending you when the best time is to buy the ticket and how to get it at the most affordable price. It sends you notifications the moment the price of the ticket you have previously searched drops. Weekendia.me is a website where you can fill in and specify the number of people to travel and select your city of departure and travel dates and let them arrange a customised surprise holiday destination and accommodation for you for a minimum amount of 150€.

PackPoint, an app that was launched so as to assist people with their vacation preparations, builds a custom packing list for you after you enter details such as where you will be going and the type of your vacation. You can tick the items off your list while packing your luggage.

GeoSure is an app that was created in consequence of increasing terrorist incidents around the world. GeoSure follows all political, environmental and sanitary developments in the cities and shows the safety ratings for individual areas recommending vacationers when to visit which area or district with what purpose and for how long in the safest way possible.

In addition to apps like these that make life easier, there also are others more on the indulging side. For example, RunGo is an app that creates suitable and safe running routes for running enthusiasts. It gives audio directions and points out important sights around. The “smart shoes” developed under the cooperation of EasyJet with Barcelona Street Project direct people towards their destination in sync with a smart phone app. If they take a wrong turn or when they arrive at their destination the shoes vibrate in different modes and thus allow tourists to wander around the city without having to embed their faces in their phone screens.

So, what is going on in Turkey while vacation planning worldwide has developed so far? We have conducted a research in order to find out how vacation planning attitudes and behavior are formed in Turkey. Our research comprised of 120 females and males who are 18-45 years of age, AB/C1/C2 SEC, go on domestic and/or foreign holidays and live in İstanbul.

98% of the interviewees go on domestic holidays and 8% on foreign holidays. More than half of the people we have interviewed state that they go on a holiday once a year. The ones who go on a holiday 2 or 3 times a year make up 43% of the interviewees.

What is taken into consideration the most while planning vacations is the budget/cost of the vacation. Other factors considered are the destination, accommodation and activities to be engaged in while there. Proximity to the sea appears as another desicive factor.

39% of the interviewees get help regarding the destination, transportation, accommodation, sights and landmarks, restaurants and bars while planning their vacation. Such help is mostly received from acquaintances, friends, tourism agencies and the Internet. The ones who choose to get help state that they do so in order to “go on vacation well-informed”, “spend the holiday efficiently” and “not to be disappointed”.

34% of the interviewees have planned any one of their vacations by means of tourism agencies. When asked about the reason why they opted for tourism agencies, the answers were along the lines of “campaigns offered”, “transportation”, “safety”, “better planning and guidance”. Furthermore, the tourism agencies are preferred when going on foreign holidays.

Generally, the final destination is decided upon factors like recommendations, budget or online research. Other important factors are proximity to the sea and availability of green areas. While deciding upon accommodation, factors such as recommendations by acquaintances, budget, online research and reviews on websites like booking.com become effective.

7 interviewees out of 10 say that they gather information on their place of destination before going on vacation there. While information is mostly gathered from the websites and blogs, friends and acquaintances are other sources of information that are highly referred to. Printed publications such as books or newspapers and smart phone apps are methods that are less preferred for gathering information. People who prefer to obtain information from acquaintances think that information found online are unreliable. People who obtain information online prefer to do so because of the wide variety of data and reviews as well as the images that would give an idea about the subject matter.

54% of the interviewees have heard of websites that assist in vacation planning. Among the websites that were recalled and mentioned are Tripadvisor, Booking.com, Tatilsepeti, Tatilbudur, Trivago and Expedia as well as the official websites of tourism agencies like Anı Tur, Jolly Tur and ETS. The ones who have previously used these websites make up 46% of the interviewees.

40% of the interviewees are in the know of smart phone apps that are useful while planning vacations. Same names as the websites appear for the apps with the addition of Grupanya. Those who have previously used these apps make up 25% of those who heard of such apps.

The overall opinion regarding websites and apps that assist people while planning their vacation is positive. People want to feel that they are in control and also want to know what they will find there before they arrive at their destination. For that reason, they think that it is quite convenient and guiding to be able to access all kinds of reviews and images online. In addition to currently available features, they expect videos and livestreams to be also accessable.

67% of the interviewees follow and read the evaluations regarding their destination or place of accommodation before going on a vacation. These reviews play an important role for the majority of the interviewees while making decisions. Another reason that was mentioned is the high rating points of a hotel raising the quality of the guests. The ones who do not find these ratings and evaluations significant reflect that tastes differ from person to person.

Planning a vacation over the Internet is not the same in Turkey as in the rest of the world. The awareness rate of this rich world of apps that caters to numerous questions and needs regarding traveling seems so low in Turkey.

We will be keeping track of usage levels of these services that offer convenience in an ever-increasing number of areas in the coming days.

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