60% of Students Would Trade Convenience for Cost Savings When Traveling

We polled nearly 5,000 student travelers to learn more about their booking habits, the tradeoffs that they would be willing to make for cost savings, usage of mobile in the booking process and habits in-destination. The following are the results of our inaugural student travel survey.

The results of the survey revealed that price is the primary concern for more than 90% of students when booking travel, and that students are willing to trade convenience, even for modest cost savings. 65% of students would take a flight with one or more stops to save money when direct or non-stop options are available, while 60% of students polled would fly to a less convenient airport to save money. Students are willing to forego convenience, even for relatively modest savings, 71% of whom would do so for savings of between $50-$100. This may be largely driven by the fact that students (64% according to our survey respondents) are paying for their travel themselves.

“Students look for cost savings opportunities, but they don’t just book the cheapest flight full stop,” said Rebecca Heidgerd, Director of Marketing, StudentUniverse. “Many students look at a number of other factors, including connection time, airline reputation/reviews and baggage fees. More than ever consumers are educated and looking closely at exactly what they will be getting for their money. Students also don’t like surprises – they expect full transparency around the information pertaining to their flight prior to booking.”

Additional key survey findings include:

  • While students are still learning about basic economy fares, they are very open to booking them. According to the survey results, 64% of students book the cheapest fare they can find and would consider booking basic economy fares if they meet their criteria. While 19% of students had not heard of these fares, only 5% of students found the restrictions (advanced seat selection, checked baggage, inability to cancel) unsuitable for their travel style. Students cite booking their travel 3-6 months prior to their trip.
  • While students like searching for travel on mobile apps, they are still booking on desktop. While 22% of students search on mobile, 72% of students don’t end up booking on mobile. International students are leading the charge with mobile—they are 2.5 times more likely to book on mobile or in-app as compared with US students. Mobile-specific offers do matter though, 42% of students state that the most important consideration in downloading an app are the offers they will receive.
  • Students seek authentic experiences, not nightlife. Less than 4% of respondents cite checking out bars and clubs to be at the top of their priority list when traveling. Instead, 41% of students look for opportunities to go off the beaten path and have authentic experiences in-destination. Given the focus on authenticity, it is no surprise that a quarter of students prefer to stay in AirBnB’s while traveling. The lack of focus on nightlife may also be due in part to how students are traveling – nearly a third of students actually prefer to travel solo to be on their own schedule.
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