Find out how leisure travelers are browsing for and booking hotels online
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Find out how leisure travelers are browsing for and booking hotels online

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83% of leisure travelers use the internet as part of their planning process. With this number expected to rise, it is important to recognize the hotel shopping process and optimize your hotel’s presence.

Gain a better understanding of the hotel online shopping journey by taking a walk with us in the shoes of a traveler as he goes from thinking about a vacation, to experiencing it, to sharing post-trip reviews.

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Find out how leisure travelers are browsing for and booking hotels online Find out how leisure travelers are browsing for and booking hotels online Document Transcript

  • From Inspiration to Great Vacation:Understanding the Travel ShoppingJourneyTake a walk with a traveler as he goes from dreaming tostaying to sharing. Learn how to reach them every step of theway and drive more bookings. Tweet this Email this
  • The online travel shopping journey 2Planning and shortlisting 3Getting social 6Visually engaged 8Hooked and booked 9From journey to destination 10Learn More 11 Tweet this Email this
  • Online shoppers are increasingly savvy – and willing to spend more online. According to Forrester Research, online shoppers in the U.S. will spend $226 billion online in 2012 – and that number will climb to $327 billion in 2016. Forrester says this continued growth is spurred by consumers’ greater comfort level with purchasing online, as well as broader web shopping capabilities with mobile and tablet devices.1 Traveler shoppers are no different from average shoppers. They use the internet for research and for purchasing more than ever. Eighty-three per cent of leisure travelers use the internet as part of their travel planning – and 65 per cent begin researching online before they’ve even decided where or how to travel. 2 Travel consumers are also comparison shoppers. They use all sorts of information to help with their decision-making and that information is found on many different websites, across many different platforms and devices . In fact, mobile browsing of travel websites has more than doubled in the past 12 months to an average 20.5 per cent of all traffic surveyed. 3 In order to reach these shoppers with an engaging and motivating story, it’s imperative that hotel marketers ensure their hotels are well represented across the board – on their own websites, on travel websites, and on social media. Not only that, but they have to be accessible across all device types. Hotels that fall behind will miss out on engaging with potential customers, and won’t see the bookings that their more savvy competitors do. Understanding travel shoppers – not just what they’re looking for in a hotel, but also how they shop and how they connect online - is a key step in learning how to deliver the best possible online experience to prospects.-1- Tweet this Email this
  • The online travel shopping journey Let’s take a look at Brian Smith, a married 35-year old in Macon, GA. Brian has been a regular internet user for more than a dozen years, he is active on Facebook, gets all of his news online, hits ESPN.com for the latest Braves and Falcons updates and loves to shop at Amazon – in other words, a fairly standard web user. Brian and his wife Marie are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary next month, and Brian wants to do something nice for Marie. He bought her earrings for Christmas and arranged an amazing surprise party for her birthday. What could he do this time that would be different? Last year, 49 per cent of travelers started researching online after seeing an online ad4. While browsing the internet, Brian sees an ad from one of the popular travel websites, and that makes the light bulb go off above his head. A trip would be perfect, he thinks. Marie’s been swamped at work and she could definitely use some time away to relax. Of course, Brian has a budget to consider, and they both have to be back at work on Monday, so nothing too exotic – but a weekend getaway to the big city sounds about right. The plan comes together in Brian’s mind – a weekend where Marie doesn’t have to lift a finger. They could take a 90-minute drive to Atlanta, enjoy a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant, and maybe see a show. Then start the next day with a room service breakfast, a spa visit and poolside cocktails in the afternoon.-2- Tweet this Email this
  • Planning and shortlisting Brian’s eager to start planning, but he also doesn’t want to miss tonight’s Braves game. Grabbing his smartphone, Brian heads to the living room to watch the game and continue his brainstorming. This multi-screen approach to web use is becoming more and more common; in fact, Google says 90 per cent of users move sequentially from one screen or device to the next when accomplishing tasks5. In addition, we’re using devices simultaneously. Brian’s use of his phone while watching TV is particularly common – 81 per cent of us use our smartphone and our TV at the same time6.90%of users move As the Braves take the field, Brian’s trip planning is taking shape. His search begins on Google, just like 87 per cent of all global internet searches7. Whensequentially it comes to travel, Brian’s also pretty typical – 83 per cent of leisure travelersfrom one screen (and 76 per cent of business travelers) plan their trips online; 96 per cent ofor device to all leisure travelers start their hotel planning with a search engine8; and 47 perthe next when cent start that planning on their smartphone. Figure 1: Where Web Searches Startaccomplishingtasks5 - Google Unfortunately, the initial “blast” of information Brian faces is pretty overwhelming. Last year, 70 per cent of survey respondents said “irrelevant data” was the biggest problem with search engine results9, and a Lifehacker poll found three-quarters of users saying that Google’s results were becoming -3- “less useful.” 10 Tweet this Email this
  • Google itself isn’t necessarily to blame – it’s just that everyone is on the Internet now. It’s no secret that people are researching, shopping and booking online, and sites such as TripAdvisor and Expedia display massive amounts of information. When faced with so much information, is it any wonder that it takes the average travel shopper more than nine sessions – and visits to more than 20 websites – before booking anything? 11 In Brian’s case, it takes him three browsing sessions, before he’s even able to narrow his list to a handful of hotels in the area with rooms available in theIt takes the price range he wants. Each browsing session consisted of multiple visits toaverage travel travel sites and reading multiple reviews.shopper more With a shortlist of six properties in hand, Brian gets serious about finding athan nine hotel that offers the experience he – and Marie – will enjoy most. Necessitiessessions and include fine dining – either on-site or within walking distance – and proximityvisits to more to a theatre or nightlife. A pool would be ideal – a tropical destination mightthan 20 websites not be in the cards right now, but Marie loves the sun.before bookinganything The next day Brian takes his car in for an oil change and, using his iPad while he waits, decides to try and narrow his list even further. Again, Brian’s a fairly typical user today, but just three years ago, he wouldn’t have been – in 2009 - Google just eight per cent of leisure travelers used a mobile device to access travel information, but that number jumped to 38 per cent in 201212. Figure 2: How Leisure Travelers Access Travel Information Source: Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler Brian visits the website for each of his shortlisted properties, and right away, The Georgian Terrace hotel in Atlanta stands out on his iPad. He’s drawn in by the large pictures and engaging videos, and the easy to find links and buttons make it simple for him to find all the information he needs. Two hotels on his short list don’t even have a smartphone site, and attempting to navigate them -4- just frustrates Brian so he crosses them right off the list; a third has a tablet- Tweet this Email this
  • optimized site, but it’s clunky, lacking the essential features that he has come to expect from a hotel website and Brian can’t even get the videos and virtual tours to load. Figure 3: Deterrents to Booking Online Source: Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler Hotels with tablet-optimized sites clearly have a leg up – especially sinceGoogle Google expects travel queries from tablets to rise 180 per cent in 2013.13expects travelqueries from His car ready to go, Brian makes a note of his final three hotels and resolvestablets to to do a little more research from home.180% Later that day Brian again Googles each of the hotels still remaining on his short list, looking not only at their websites, but also at each on TripAdvisorin 2013 and through social media. While all are well-represented online, with favorable reviews and photos, once again The Georgian Terrace’s story - Google, Ipsos stands out. While the other properties all look similar on TripAdvisor, The Georgian Terrace links to a mini-site with videos and tours, plus they have a fully functional Facebook page with even more photos and videos. No matter where Brian finds The Georgian Terrace online, the experience is consistent – and engaging. He can clearly see it offers plenty of restaurant choices, both on-site and nearby; it’s walking distance to the Fox Theatre; and it has a rooftop pool and patio that looks ideal for a relaxing afternoon in the sun. -5- Tweet this Email this
  • Getting social As a regular Facebook user, Brian is particularly impressed with The Georgian Terrace’s Facebook page. In addition to making use of Facebook’s latest “timeline” layout and photo galleries, The Georgian Terrace offers a tour and booking app with videos and panoramic photos that give a Brian a true feel for the experience of staying there and reinforce his excitement about their trip. The Georgian Terrace also uses Instagram, has its Facebook page linked to its Twitter page, and has feedback from guests and fans on its wall. In fact, Brian sees a familiar face on the wall – it’s Michelle,81%of travelers find his former next-door neighbor. Brian hasn’t spoken to Michelle in auser reviews few years, but he knowsimportant when she has good taste – anddetermining she’s written a glowingwhich hotel to review of her sister’sstay at wedding reception at The Georgian Terrace. - TNooz That’s the final motivator for Brian, and it’s no surprise – word of mouth still counts for a lot when it comes to travel. According to one survey, 81 per cent of travelers find user reviews important when determining which hotel to stay at during their trip, and nearly half said they won’t book a property unless it has reviews14. Another survey of Facebook users found that more than 50 per cent of respondents indicated that seeing friends’ vacation pictures inspired them to book a trip to that particular place15, while one-third of survey respondents in the UK indicated they changed their hotel preference after checking in with social media16. -6- Tweet this Email this
  • For hotels, it seems clear that social media is an important driver of both engagement and revenue. In a recent survey, 71 per cent of hotels indicated that social media has improved customer engagement, and 50 per cent said they have generated direct bookings from social media.17 In addition, a 2010 Cornell University study suggests that conversion rates from Facebook referrals actually exceed those from other online travel sites18. Figure 4: How important will Social Media be in five years? Source: World Travel Market: 2011 Industry Report Overall, Brian finds a consistent message between the TripAdvisor reviews, Facebook comments, and the hotel’s own words, giving him confidence that The Georgian Terrance is the perfect place for him and Marie to spend their anniversary.-7- Tweet this Email this
  • Visually engaged On his lunch break the next day, Brian uses his smartphone for a final bit of research, this time on Travelocity. When he clicks on the Travelocity media link for The Georgian Terrace, he sees even more videos and pictures, further connecting him with the hotel’s story. From multiple devices, across travel sites, Facebook and their own website, The Georgian Terrace delivers panoramic photos, tours and videos that provide a consistent, engaging, visual experience that connect Brian to the their story.62%of videoswatched comedirectly from It can’t be overstated just how much of an impact video is having on travelhotels, airlines, shoppers online.cruises andtravel service 28 per cent of leisure travelers have viewed a video online in 2012– up fromproviders 21 per cent three years ago – and 57 per cent of those viewers watched a - Google, Ipsos video when deciding on accommodations. Overall, 62 per cent of videos watched come directly from hotels, airlines, cruises and travel service providers19. For travelers, no matter how they engage with a hotel online, they want to see images, videos, and details that help them understand what the hotel offers and what they can expect during their stay – in other words, whether the hotel is the right fit for them. -8- Tweet this Email this
  • Hooked and booked Thirty-seven per cent of leisure travelers reported booking online in 2011– up from 28 per cent in 200920 and 66 per cent of leisure travelers surveyed in 2012 indicated they plan to spend more time shopping around and researching before booking travel (up from 59 per cent in 2011) 21. For Brian, his mind is made up – he’s found his hotel. He’s not quite ready to book though; he still has to confirm his dates and make sure he can get theatre tickets. The good news is, when he is ready, Brian knows he has multiple options for how to book. Thanks to The Georgian Terrace’s multiple booking options, he can book from just about anywhere – the hotel website, his smartphone or tablet, from the hotel’s Facebook page, or through a travel site such as Travelocity. Being a savvy shopper, Brian uses all of the above to make sure he’s getting the best possible rate. When he’s satisfied that he’s got the right price, right dates, and his dinner reservations and theatre tickets lined up, Brian books his trip and heads downstairs to tell Marie of their anniversary plans! Of course, he also takes the time brag about his awesome anniversary surprise on Facebook and Twitter, posting links straight from the hotel’s smartphone site to his social media accounts. Figure 5: How users use mobile to book travel Source: Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler-9- Tweet this Email this
  • From journey to destination While we won’t pry into the details of Brian and Marie’s romantic anniversary weekend, we can confirm that the internet continues to play a role throughout their trip. Travelers are more connected than ever. Thanks to the mobile- optimized site, Brian knows it would only take a couple of taps to get in touch with the hotel if needed and Marie can use the tablet-optimized site to take the virtual tour of the hotel on the car ride there. Brian also uses his smartphone to get directions to the hotel and check traffic, while Marie uses hers to check the weather and make sure they can spend the afternoon by the pool. Of course, travelers’ connectivity to the hotel doesn’t end when they check out. As Brian and Marie wind down their romantic getaway and head back home, Brian posts a fond farewell to Atlanta on Facebook through his smartphone, and Marie’s already thinking about what sort of review she’s going to leave on TripAdvisor. She may even write it on the iPad during the car ride home!- 10 - Tweet this Email this
  • Learn More VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure™ is an ideal solution for hotels looking to deliver consistent, visually rich, optimized online experiences to travelers. With powerful features and an easy-to-use web interface, VBrochure™ helps you tell your hotel’s story in a visually compelling, engaging manner, across multiple sites and devices. Contact us today to learn more about how VBrochure™ can help you build a great online experience for your visitors. @VFMLeonardo www.facebook.com/vfmleonardo blog.vfmleonardo.com www.vfmleonardo.com- 11 - Tweet this Email this
  • Sources: 1. Internet Retailer: E-retail spending to increase 62% by 2016 (http://www.internetretailer. com/2012/02/27/e-retail-spending-increase-45-2016) 2. Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/library/studies/the- 2012-traveler/) 3. Nucleus: Witnessing the Birth of the Mobile era (http://www.nucleus.co.uk/thoughts.aspx) 4. Google: The Five Stages of Travel (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/library/infographics/five- stages-of-travel/) 5. Google: The New Multi-Screen World (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/library/studies/the- new-multi-screen-world-study/) 6. Google: The New Multi-Screen World 7. Karma Snack: Search Engine Market Share (http://www.karmasnack.com/about/search-engine- market-share/) 8. Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler 9. SearchEngineLand: 89% Find Search Engines Do Good Job Finding Information, But “Noise” Is Issue (http://searchengineland.com/89-find-search-engines-do-good-job-but-noise-is-issue-61064) 10. Lifehacker: Over 77 Percent of Lifehacker Readers Say Google’s Search Results are Less Useful Lately (http://lifehacker.com/5730396/over-77-percent-of-lifehacker-readers-say-googles-search-results-are- less-useful-lately) 11. Google: The Five Stages of Travel 12. Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler 13. Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler 14. TNooz: Understanding the Importance of Hotel Reputation Management (http://www.tnooz. com/2011/08/18/news/underscoring-the-importance-of-online-hotel-reputation-management/#cOrvuv aRyZWExrWe.99) 15. Forbes: How Facebook is Shaping Your 2012 Travel Decisions (http://www.forbes.com/sites/ traceygreenstein/2012/07/06/how-facebook-is-shaping-your-2012-travel-decisions/) 16. World Travel Market: 2011 Industry Report (http://www.wtmlondon.com/files/onsite_wtm_industry_ report_2011.PDF) 17. Eye for Travel: Social Media and Mobile Strategies for the Travel Industry (http://events.eyefortravel. com/social-media-mobile-report/) 18. How Travelers Use Online and Social Media Channels to Make Hotel-choice Decisions, Cornell University: Laura McCarthy, Debra Stock, and Rohit Verma Ph.D. (http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/ research/chr/pubs/reports/abstract-15359.html) 19. Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler 20. Google: The Five Stages of Travel 21. Google/Ipsos Media: The 2012 Traveler - 12 -VFML_WP_SHOPJOURNEY_0101 Tweet this Email this