Germans Like to Go on Holiday by Car… or Do They?

By Anders Aarstad, Vice President, ASE

Many people feel that there’s really no better way to see Europe than by car. With more and more low-cost airlines making it more affordable to fly, we were curious to find out if heading out on vacation by car is still the most popular way to travel. Focusing on Germans, we ran a survey among 1000 respondents during the summer of 2017 to see if Germany is considered a “carnation” when it comes to going away on holiday.


Before digging into the survey results, here is some info around how we create and maintain an active Automotive consumer panel focusing on four important parts: recruitment, validation, profiling and user experience.

Recruitment – use a broad base of sources to build panels

Over the recent years, SSI has developed its sampling platform making it possible to increase the reach and diversification of our recruitment sources. Hundreds of German sites and communities feed into our panels,  including invitation-only airline loyalty programs as well as automotive websites that we access with more traditional advertising. A broad base makes it possible to provide a representative blend not just based on age, gender and region but also when it comes to factors based on psychographic behavior that we monitor for all our sources over time.

Validation – test if respondents are who they say they are

The validation of respondents is an important part of creating automotive panels. It all starts on the sourcing stage where we run through a due diligence checklist to exclude any kind of misleading marketing from our traffic stream. for invitation-only programs we use the loyalty account for verification alongside any additional ID-requirements our partners use, such as airlines. As part of the sign-up process we apply consistency and correlation-checks as well as live open end text validation. These are just some of the tactics applied to making sure we filter out suspected fraudulent respondents before they hit the survey. SSI can also facilitate validation within the survey itself, i.e. asking respondents to film a car-walk-around on their mobile phone.

Profiling – accurately capture car brands and makes

According to Statista, there were 226 car-models offered on the US market in 2016, 37 of which were new models introduced that year. That might not sound like many, but if we count across all our 40 panel-countries worldwide we are looking at more than 1000 car-models, with the list increasing with more than 10% every year. Adding to the complexity, because of cultural differences the same car is often given different names in different markets. By partnering with automotive industry providers, we are able to systematically update our database with new models continuously making sure we do not miss out on any new models.

The huge amount of car makes and models across the globe requires a systematic approach to profiling.

User Experience – make sure respondents stay engaged

Capturing accurate data from respondents is also about creating an intuitive easy user interface for respondents to fill out questions. Too many panel providers are bombarding their respondents with profiling questions, forcing them to go through page after page filled with matrix questions and never-ending lists to scroll through to find the right answer. This is well intended, but the result is often fatigued respondents entering inaccurate data. This is why we have paid a lot of attention to how we built our automotive profiler, carefully evaluating each step optimizing the user-flow. As an example, we noticed that many respondents would not know the definition of the body-type of their car, which we then changed to automatically rendering a graphic of the car based on the car-model confirming that they had made the right entry.

Showing how we illustrate body-type to make it easier for the respondent

The car is still king, but young people prefer to fly

By driving, you can pack whatever you want in the car, and you can set off from home whenever you want. When it comes to flying, you’ve got to think about getting to the airport, and finding transport when you arrive. On the plus side you know you’re going to get to your destination relatively quickly once you’re on the plane. However, overall heading out on your vacation in a car is still the preferred way of going on holiday in Germany. In our survey, we found that in the overall population, forty-six percent of Germans prefer to use the car for their holiday. Flying comes in a good second with thirty-eight percent, while seven percent use the train. There are some interesting differences between the age-groups, with plane being the most popular way of travelling for the youngest age-group 18-24 with forty-eight percent, while for the oldest age-group 65+, thirty-one percent prefer using the plane vs. forty-nine percent using their car. Train comes in on third place for all age-groups, but is most popular among 24-35-year-old with ten percent preferring to use train as their main travelling method.

The older you are the more likely you are to go on vacation by car.

Being in a car for hours on end can be a challenge many and some and some might say that you’ll maximise your time spent relaxing on holiday by flying. That said, if you’re on a tight budget as many families are, you could save a fortune by driving rather than flying, especially if you’ve left booking flights to the last minute.

Looking at some of the differences between premium and standard car-owners, we found that a lot more premium car owners are planning to travel abroad. For the premium car-owners, fifty-five percent are going to outside of Germany with Italy being the most popular destination by far, with Austria on second and Netherlands on third. For standard car-owners, forty-five percent are travelling abroad with the majority having Germany as their main car-vacation destination. Looking at the specific brands we see some interesting differences, like twice as many Ford owners (sixty-one percent) planning to stay in Germany for their car-vacation compared to Audi owners (thirty-three percent). As for BMW, Italy comes in as a clear number one choice for their car-vacation while Skoda owners have Croatia as their top destination.

The majority of premium car-owners travel abroad.

If you would like to have access to the dataset or learn more about our Automotive panel, please contact us at: