What Influences a Flight Purchase?

It’s no surprise that there are many factors impacting a flight shopper’s decision on where to book a flight. Did they want to search on an OTA, meta search, or head directly to an airline site?

In our Traveler Attribution study, we looked at what the various paths shoppers took through each of these channels—an airline brand site, OTA, and meta—could tell us about where they ended up purchasing a flight. In partnership with Millward Brown Digital, we examined 46 million instances digging into how travel shoppers navigated each of this journey’s three stages—the initial Inspiration phase, the middle phase of Research and Consideration, and the final Purchasing stage.

Research shows there are 144 unique paths air shoppers take when seeking inspiration, researching and completing their flight purchases online. It turns out, the place where they initiate this research, as well as the order of sites they visit while considering which flight to book, ultimately influence where they end up making a purchase.

In examining the middle phase of the air consumer journey to purchase, 29% of all researchers interacted with meta. On average, 60% of those shoppers visited an OTA immediately following meta, compared with the 33% who went next to an airline site. And among the 62% of shoppers who interacted with an airline site during the research and consideration phase, visiting an OTA was the most common next step of this journey.


When we remove this middle phase, we get a better idea of the significant power of the initial inspiration phase, and its relationship to purchasing in the air space. Nearly half of all shoppers who complete OTA and airline brand site purchases start in their respective same categories.

Moreover, OTAs were the point of inspiration nearly three times as often as meta sites, regardless of where shoppers ended up making their air purchases. In some cases, OTAs even surpassed airline sites as the point of inspiration. Shoppers were three times more likely to start on an OTA as the point of inspiration before ultimately purchasing on an airline site, when compared with meta, where only 14% of airline site purchases originated.


These insights are just a subset of the findings from the research in exploring air attribution. For more insights and specific implications to help optimize your attribution strategy, download our latest whitepaper, {{cta(’46c893fc-e283-41b6-8eac-d0446778436b’)}}