How to Conduct a Traveler Survey

With ever-changing traveling trends and habits, it is challenging for airlines and airports to provide the best passenger experience. For this reason, traveler surveys have become more popular in the aviation industry.

Insights from a traveler survey identify consumer preferences, expectations, and factors of choice when flying. This type of data helps create data-driven marketing, business, and sales strategies.

The best way to learn the process for conducting a traveler survey is by learning from a real-world example.

In this blog post, our airline market research company outlines our approach to executing this type of study for a luxury private jet charter solutions provider.

To skip ahead to a section of interest, click each step below or keep reading.

Looking to conduct a traveler survey with an airline market research firm? Contact Drive Research by filling out an online form, or emailing [email protected].


Step 1: Determine Traveler Survey Objectives

The first stage in any market research study is to determine the objectives. By understanding the goals of market research, you can better design survey questions to collect the best insights for your needs.

When working with a third-party market research firm, your objectives will often be discussed in a project kick-off meeting.

For example, a luxury private jet charter solutions provider hired our travel market research company to survey consumers across several geographies in the United States.

The study's objectives focused on gathering feedback and opinions on airports, travel behaviors, perceptions, and challenges facing potential passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our firm dives into this topic in the blog post, “How Will COVID-19 Impact New York Travel and Tourism in 2020?”

The results of the passenger survey would be used for the airline’s clients and prospects to fuel the next steps in marketing, content, and strategy.

Additionally, the client hoped to repurpose the findings in several approaches to maximize the return on the data such as lead generation sales sheets, whitepapers, webinars, and more.

Recommended Reading: 7 Tips to Help with Travel and Tourism Surveys

Step 2: Define Traveler Survey Respondent Criteria

The second key piece to conducting a traveler survey is identifying your respondent criteria.

Oftentimes airlines choose to survey a general population however, there are options to poll travelers based on their demographics or reasons for flying (for business, pleasure, etc.).

The respondent criteria for the traveler survey included:

  • A broad mix of age groups from all generations: Gen Z, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists)
  • Consumers who reside in specific market areas: Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Alabama, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island
  • A mix of household incomes
  • Consumers who used travel for only leisure, only business, and a mix of both
  • A mix of travelers who prefer small, mid-sized, and large airports

Recommended Reading: 5 Ways to Find Survey Respondents

Step 3: Create Traveler Survey Questions

After stating your objectives and respondent criteria, it is time to draft the questions included in a traveler survey.

For this project, the private jet charter solutions company wanted to ask 30-questions. On average, this took consumers 7 to 10 minutes to complete.

Example Travel Survey Questions

  • For what reasons do you typically use air travel? Select one.
  • What factor(s) are most important to you when choosing to book a flight at an airport? Select all that apply.
  • How far away in miles is the closest commercial airport to your residence? Enter quantity.
  • How far are you willing to drive in miles from your residence to use an airport? Enter quantity.
  • In a typical year before the COVID-19 pandemic, how many times did you take a round-trip flight? Enter quantity.
  • Once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, how many round-trip flights do you expect to take in a year? Enter quantity.
  • What is your top concern with using airports and flying during COVID-19? Enter response.
  • When selecting an airport, what COVID-19 safety precautions are most important to you? Select all that apply.
  • What would make you consider flying more often from your local airport? Select all that apply.

maximize-the-roi-of -traveler-surveys

Step 4: Conduct the Traveler Survey

Once your survey is designed, it’s time to send it to fieldwork!

There are several approaches airlines or airports can take to administer a traveler survey. While this specific project utilized online surveys, there is also the opportunity to collect feedback with in-person intercept surveys.

To learn more about this approach, check out our case study: Airport Uses Intercept Surveys and Mobility Analytics to Create Customer Personas.

The reason our market research company recommended online surveys for this project is that it is the best methodology for collecting high-volume, cost-effective insights.

The benefits of an online traveler survey often create a strong return on investment for our aviation clients.

Fieldwork of the Travel Survey

Fieldwork for the travelers questionnaire began on October 20 and lasted until October 27, 2020. It received 1,000 responses across various markets. With a probabilistic sample, 1,000 responses at the 95% confidence level offers a 3.1% margin of error.

This means if the consumer survey were conducted with another random pool of 1,000 consumers across the country, results would yield within +3.1% or -3.1% of the reports' stated totals.

quote text: The benefits of an online traveler survey often create a strong return on investment for our aviation clients

Step 5: Analyze Traveler Survey Findings

The last stage of a traveler market research study is to analyze and report on the findings. Drive Research offers our airline clients a variety of reporting packages. Doing so assures project costs can be modified to any budget.

Our client requested a topline summary report. This included:

  • Background and methodology
  • Participant profiles
  • Executive summary

A topline report intends to provide a bullet-point style report touching on the critical insights from the market research study. It is delivered in an easy to comprehend PowerPoint.  

Our airport market research company also provided result breakdowns by age, region, travel type, and airport size preference.

This demographic data allows the client to modify their marketing material based on unique passenger personas.

Recommended Reading: How to Conduct an Online Survey for an Airport

Conduct a Traveler Survey with Our Airline Market Research Company

Drive Research, a national market research company, specializes in quantitative and qualitative methodologies for the travel industry.

Our team partners with airlines across the country to provide unique, in-depth insights to improve passenger experience and increase memberships.

Interested in conducting an airport or airline market research study? Contact Drive Research below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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