The World Wide Web celebrated its 25th birthday this year, leaving us to reminisce about what life was like before it. But just how much has it changed how we travel? Journal of Travel Research recently published an article bu authors Zheng Xiang of Virgina Tech, Dan Wang of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Joseph T. O’Leary of Colorado State University at Fort Collins, and Daniel R. Fesenmaier of Temple University exploring this topic in their OnlineFirst section entitled “Adapting to the Internet: Trends in Travelers’ Use of the Web for Trip Planning.”
The influence of the Internet on our social and economic life is well documented. However, few studies have been conducted to assess how travelers have adapted to the Internet over time. Using a series of national surveys conducted over the past 6 years (2007–2012), this study describes important changes taking place in the use of the Internet by American travelers. The results point to a number of key trends in travelers’ use of the Internet and suggest that there is a growing “bifurcation” between traditional online travelers, that is, those who use the Internet for standard travel products and those who are beginning to adopt alternative channels and products in search of deeper and more authentic experiences. This article discusses several important implications of these trends for both research and practice.