Travel & Tourism Market Research Options [+ Pros & Cons]

Americans have the travel bug. So much so that travel spending was up to $93 million this past February. 

And with increased travel comes the potential for fantastic trips – and ones straight out of a nightmare.

So to avoid those negative outcomes, we strongly suggest investing in travel and tourism market research options

To help, this post will share several different market research options for those in the travel and tourism industry.

Any one of these types of market research methods detailed below can be used to inform your organization’s marketing and other business strategies.

What is Travel and Tourism Market Research?

Travel and tourism market research involves gathering and analyzing data related to consumer behaviors, preferences, and trends within the travel industry.

This research aims to understand factors influencing travel decisions, such as destination choices, accommodation preferences, spending habits, and travel motivations, helping businesses in the travel sector make informed decisions to better cater to the needs and desires of travelers.

Benefits of Travel and Tourism Market Research

With 40% of US travelers wanting to feel that they have made the most out of their trip, it highlights the importance of providing a high-quality experience for customers.

And market research is an important tool for businesses in the travel and tourism industry to meet the changing needs of their guests and stay competitive.

Traveler statistic

There are several benefits of conducting travel and tourism market research including:

  1. Identifying consumer trends and preferences: Market research can help identify consumer behavior, preferences, and trends in the travel and tourism industry. This information can help businesses, airports, and travel destinations tailor their products and services to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their target customers.

  2. Understanding competition: Market research can help businesses understand their competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and their market share. As a result, travel and tourism destinations or businesses can develop effective strategies to stay ahead in a competitive space.

  3. Identifying new opportunities: With travel and tourism market research, organizations can identify new market segments, untapped markets, and emerging trends in the industry. Keeping tabs on this information will assist in developing new products and services that meet the needs of these target audiences.

  4. Improving marketing efforts: Earn insights into how travelers perceive a brand, what motivates them to choose one brand over another, and what messaging resonates with them. Then, use this information to create data-driven marketing strategies that resonate with your target consumer.

  5. Reducing risk: Lastly, several travel and tourism market research options help companies make informed decisions about product development, marketing, and business strategy. This can help reduce the risk of failure and minimize the costs associated with trial and error.

Travel & Tourism Market Research Options

Businesses in the travel and tourism space can use several market research options to guide their marketing and product development efforts.

For example, as stated above, 40% of US travelers want to feel that they have made the most out of their trip.

Uncovering a unique statistic like this could lead organizations to focus on promoting experiences or activities that help travelers feel that they have made the most out of their trip, such as guided tours, local cultural experiences, or adventure activities.

They may also focus on ensuring that the customer experience is of high quality, with excellent customer service, clean and comfortable accommodations, and well-maintained facilities and equipment.

Travel and tourism market research options include: 

  1. On-site intercept surveys
  2. Ad concept testing
  3. Visitor or traveler surveys
  4. Online reputation management (ORM)

While our market research company dives into each of these methodologies below, you can also get a brief synopsis by watching this video.

#1: On-Site Intercept Surveys

What better place to gather insight from visitors than at the most pivotal points of their visit?

Intercept surveys are a form of quantitative research and can be conducted wherever there’s a steady flow of visitors. Think airports, museums, hotels, stadiums, and more!

They are one of the quickest ways to capture accurate and relevant information from the people spending time at your destination.

Typically, an intercept survey company would send a team member to administer a brief questionnaire via a tablet or other smart device.

The visitor can take the survey themselves or the team member can record the visitors’ responses on the device. As we’ll cover, this is a great travel and tourism market research option for those that want responses fast.

Benefits of Intercept Surveys 👍

1. They’re fast

Intercept surveys are one of the quickest ways to capture accurate and relevant information from the people spending time at your destination. Because of this, you’ll save a whole lot of time gathering feedback, allowing you to get a head-start on analyzing the information.

This quality makes them especially useful in the travel and tourism industry.

2. They’re timely

With the ability to collect data even in an offline environment, intercept surveys are great for getting feedback from people as their visit/interaction is still fresh in their minds.

  • Did they enjoy their visit?
  • Could any improvements be made?
  • How far did they travel to the venue?

You can get answers to these questions and so much more.

Drawbacks to Intercept Surveys 👎

1. There may be hoops to jump through

While this varies for each project, establishments need to know that there are surveys being conducted in their space. This means that you’re relying on another party to give the okay for part of your project, which can complicate things. 

2. Not everyone wants to talk

Yes, the fresh information is worth it! But not everyone is willing to give it. Part of the game with intercept is snagging people who are willing to talk.

Furthermore, you’ll want to ensure what they’re telling you is relevant and not just something to earn an incentive.

For more about the process of intercept surveys as a travel and tourism market research option, read Case Study: Airport Uses Intercept Surveys to Create Customer Personas.

#2: Ad Concept Testing

Market research in travel and tourism is essential if you want to (repeatedly) launch successful ad campaigns! 

Have you and your team created new and improved advertisements to showcase all that your city or region has to offer?

If so, you’ve probably put a lot of effort into them. Don’t let that go to waste!

The most common types of ad concept testing for the travel and tourism sector include:

  • Focus groups. Focus groups are a qualitative approach to ad concept testing that involves recruiting a mix of individuals to come together either in person or virtually. During the group discussion, your target audience shares real-time feedback on various aspects of the advertisements you have created. This allows for a more in-depth discussion about the advertisements and provides you with greater insight as to how the advertisement may be perceived by potential guests or visitors.

  • Online surveys. Alternatively (and most commonly), you can employ an ad concept testing survey that asks a random audience to evaluate the advertisements and explain which one they prefer. Here, you can use the data collected to compare the advertisements side by side. 

Benefits of Ad Concept Testing 👍

1. Better ROI

Travel industry or not, nothing hurts a marketer more than a failed ad campaign. So in order to prevent that, testing a travel ad campaign for its effectiveness prior to launch is preferred. 

For instance, let’s say you run advertising testing and get a lot of critiques. Because of this, you can make those necessary changes before you go live.

And in turn, you’ll be saving money that would’ve been wasted on a failed campaign! 

2. Get the right message across.

Going hand-in-hand with what we just said, ad testing will make sure your travel campaign is clear to audiences. If there’s an issue with anything, this will be discovered and you can correct it.

Using data-driven marketing strategies like this will not only save you money but also increase the quality of your brand’s message. 

Drawbacks to Ad Concept Testing 👎

1. Don’t try it on your own

Sure, we could say this for any of the other methods we’re talking about. But this factor is especially important for ad concept testing.

It can be difficult to remain neutral as feedback comes in. After working days, weeks, or even months on a campaign, it's difficult to not become attached to the creative.

Some brands see negative feedback and take it personally or try to poke holes in the data to defend their work. 

Plus, when you partner with an outside team like Drive Research, you’ll be able to have the data accurately cleaned and interpreted. 

2. Don't test your ads too soon

Ad concept testing may involve showing respondents a concept or rough draft of a travel advertisement and asking them to evaluate it.

While this can provide some insight into how the ad might perform, it may not fully capture the impact of the final, polished product.

#3: Visitor or Traveler Surveys

Another great travel and tourism market research option is visitor surveys. Not only are they a great way to better understand the people visiting your location, but to also evaluate the success of any past or current marketing campaigns.

As a quantitative form of market research, visitor surveys can provide a boatload of insight.

This travel and tourism market research option lets you: 

  • Understand who your visitors are
  • Why do visitors come to your establishment
  • Where your visitors are from

This insight is great for creating traveler personas to help your team visualize the kind of person who visits your destination.

Additionally, this option for travel and tourism market research is a good channel for evaluating the success of your marketing efforts.

You can include questions such as...

Did the visitor see an advertisement online about the area?

Was there something on the radio in their city?

Benefits of Visitor or Traveler Surveys 👍

1. Get the inside scoop

With visitor surveys, you’ll learn a lot about the people coming to visit your organization. You can see where they’re from, why they’re coming to you, and learn other key insights.

With this information, you can tweak your outreach strategies to better meet the needs of your visitors. 

2. Up your marketing game

When you understand your visitors on a deeper level, you can use that information to improve your advertising campaigns.

Additionally, you can use this information to promote your social media strategy. All of this comes together to make your organization highly appealing to future (and returning) visitors! 

Drawbacks to Ad Concept Testing 👎

1. Quality of the information

While there are very few cons to this type of research, it’s still worth noting that you’ll want to carefully check the quality of responses.

Visitors may just want to rush through and spend enough time answering. Though, working with an online survey company can help to create data quality checks and ensure all responses are of great quality.

2. They have the ability to drag on

The main reason is that it’s easy to get carried away with all the questions you want to ask your visitors! But respondents – travelers or not – don’t like long surveys.

For this kind of travel survey, think about 10 minutes or so. To avoid this, have a clear image of the questions you want to ask and make sure they’re not repetitive. 

Recommended Reading: 7 Tips to Help With Traveler and Tourism Surveys

#4: Online Reputation Management

It's universally understood that what goes online, typically stays there forever. And for travel and tourism destinations, online reviews are extremely impactful.

In fact, 95% of travelers read seven reviews before making a booking.

Traveler online reviews statistic

But what if you had the magical ability to shift consumers’ attention to something that casts your destination in a more positive light? 

Well, it's not actually magic, but rather what we like to call Online Reputation Management (ORM) and it's a great travel and tourism market research option.

Essentially, ORM involves adding new, positive content to the internet that then pushes the older, negative material to the end of the line (i.e. lower in the search results).

While our online reputation management company achieves this through customer surveys, there are other strategies that can be implemented to increase your Google reviews.

Benefits of ORM 👍

1. Bury negative reviews

ORM is incredibly useful for hiding those one or two negative online reviews that keep popping up. It also keeps new, fresh current events involving your destination in the minds of future guests. 

2. Receive more current reviews

Not only will ORM decrease the visibility of your negative reviews, but you’ll also begin to see more positive reviews about your business.

Because more respondents are being prompted to review your services, this will naturally boost the number of reviews that are coming in. The best part here is that the reviews are authentic! 

Drawbacks to ORM 👎

1. The bad reviews aren’t officially “gone.”

True, they’re buried–which means there’s a much lower chance for them to be seen. But still, they’re lurking.

Understanding that the process takes time will help, and eventually, those reviews will get so buried it’s likely they will rarely be seen. However, this is important to keep in mind when using ORM services.

2. You still may get poor reviews.

You can’t keep everyone happy. Even if you create an outstanding customer experience strategy based on solid data, you’re bound to have a cranky visitor or two complain online.

ORM doesn’t eliminate the chance of ever getting a bad review. Focus on using any negative feedback as a way to improve your brand, service, or location.

Final Thoughts

Conducting market research is crucial for any business in the travel and tourism industry, as it provides valuable insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and trends.

As we've seen, there are several travel and tourism market research options available, each with its pros and cons.

Online surveys are cost-effective, fast, and easy to distribute, but they may suffer from low response rates and biased samples. Focus groups allow for more in-depth feedback and interaction, but they can be expensive and time-consuming to organize.

Therefore, it's important to choose the research method(s) that best align with your goals and budget.

A travel and tourism market research company, like Drive Research, can help recommend what methodology is best based on your unique needs.

Contact Our Travel & Tourism Market Research Firm

Drive Research is a national market research company specializing in the travel and tourism industry. We partner with various airlines, hotels, museums, and stadiums across the country to deliver data-driven insights. 

Interested in learning more about our market research services? Contact Drive Research by filling out the form below or emailing [email protected].



Devan Grant

Devan's love for learning serves him well as a market research professional. With two years of both quantitative and qualitative research in the healthcare space under his belt, he knows what it takes to answer some of the toughest market research questions.



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