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So much for destinations clamoring for press — and bloggers by extension — coverage.

So much for the primacy of unpaid promotional channels. Buried in a very extensive study earlier this summer by TripAdvisor are two data points that show the disconnect between what travel businesses think matter in potential travelers making a decision to travel, versus what travelers actually think is important while choosing where to go.

TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer 2014 global traveler and accommodation survey study, released in April, tried to gauge the decision making process of travelers these days.

The first question was: “Thinking generally about your vacations, which of the following do you think has an impact on your decision to travel to a particular destination? Please rate each of the following on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means ‘it does not impact on my decision at all’ and 5 means ‘it has a strong impact on my decision'”.

About 50K travelers answered this question worldwide, and the results below, which show press coverage is the second least important in the factors that impact on decisions to travel to a particular destination, almost tying in with the state of global economy as an impetus to travel.

The newness of a place to a traveler is the biggest factor that influences their travels, and of course trumpeting TripAdvisor’s own reason for existence, online reviews are the third most important factor globally.

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We asked TripAdvisor for some more granular level data on this traveler behavior, and the company supplied us this country-level data on which countries’ travelers are more swayed by press coverage in their decisions on destinations, and which aren’t. As you can see in the table below, in North American and European countries press coverage sways travelers a lot less, compared to Asian and Latin American countries.

Ranking according to countries where “press coverage” has the greatest impact on travelers’ decisions to choose a particular destination in 2014:

Country Rank Country % Press Coverage Matters*
1 Thailand 47%
2 Indonesia 45%
3 Malaysia 36%
4 China 31%
5 Turkey 29%
6 Japan 28%
7 Austria 24%
8 Germany 23%
9 India 22%
10 South Africa 22%
11 Switzerland 20%
12 Canada 16%
13 Russia 16%
14 Ireland 16%
15 United Kingdom 15%
16 Australia 14%
17 Brazil 13%
18 New Zealand 13%
19 United States 12%
20 Mexico 11%
21 Greece 10%
22 France 9%
23 Portugal 8%
24 Israel 8%
25 Italy 7%

*Impact = where respondents score 4 or 5 out of 5 points

On the other hand, to understand what travel businesses (primarily hospitality businesses) think about what factors will have most impact on their business profitability this year, TripAdvisor asked this question to about 10K+ travel business professionals: “Thinking about 2014, which of the following, if any, do you think will have a positive or negative impact on your business profitability?”

The answers, in the chart below, show that hospitality businesses think very highly of press coverage, ranking as the third most important factor that effects their profitability.

According to the survey, positive media coverage matters a lot, particularly among boutique properties, three in five say it will have a positive effect on their profitability. Interestingly, flight fares, which travelers say is the second most important factor for them choosing their destination to go to, is the least important factor travel businesses think will affect their profitability, a huge disconnect if there ever was one.

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Meanwhile, TripAdvisor gave us further granular country level data on businesses sentiment on profitability, and where these businesses think press coverage matter most. Again, countries in Asia and Latin America think press coverage matters a lot for their business profitability, while less businesses in North American and Europe believe it matters as much.

Ranking according to countries where hoteliers think “press coverage” will have the greatest impact on their business profitability in 2014:

Country Rank Country % Press Coverage Matters*
1 Turkey 80%
2 Morocco 72%
3 Portugal 72%
4 Brazil 69%
5 Russia 64%
6 Greece 62%
7 France 58%
8 India 58%
9 Switzerland 54%
10 Germany 54%
11 Austria 53%
12 Mexico 52%
13 South Africa 49%
14 Australia 49%
15 United Kingdom 48%
16 United States 48%
17 Canada 48%
18 Caribbean 47%
19 New Zealand 46%
20 Spain 43%
21 Japan 42%
22 China 41%
23 Argentina 39%
24 Thailand 36%
25 Italy 36%
(*Impact = where respondents score 4 or 5 out of 5 points)
Photo Credit: So much for the primacy of travel magazines.