Abta, the trade body for travel companies, commissioned the research for its annual report, which showed travel companies were failing to utilise their websites to sell destinations effectively.
Consumers use a range of sources – including print, online and face-to-face – for holiday ideas and information, Abta said.
According to the research, 41 per cent of respondents from all age groups use general internet searches for ideas and inspiration about their next holiday, rising to 46 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds.
Meanwhile, 36 per cent of all age groups chose travel brochures for ideas and 34 per cent sought recommendations from friends and family, which rose to 49 per cent of 16- to 24-year-old respondents.
But travel company websites were low on the list of sources for ideas, with just 15 per cent of all respondents reporting using this method, rising only slightly to 17 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds.
Overall trends from the report show a slight fall in the number of holidays taken in the 12 months to August 2014, with 80 per cent taking a holiday at home or abroad in this period compared with 83 per cent in 2013.
Of those who did take a holiday in the past 12 months, 68 per cent took a break in the UK while 53 per cent took a holiday abroad.
Of those surveyed, 41 per cent took a holiday in the UK and abroad in the last 12 months, up two percentage points on the previous 12 months.
But a rising number of people took no holiday at all in the last 12 months, 20 per cent, compared with 10 per cent in 2011.
Commenting on the findings, Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: "The past 12 months have been mixed from a consumer confidence and sales perspective.
"Our members reported a buoyant market with consumer confidence high and strong early season sales. Since that time, we've seen consumer confidence soften and a more mixed picture for holiday sales."