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The 8 Biggest Reasons the Traffic Landscape is Shifting


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As many hotels have noticed over the last 12 months, the traffic landscape for hotel traffic is changing. In a time when digital activity is increasing, online bookings are growing and many hotels are becoming more sophisticated in their approach to digital channels, a drop in traffic from any channel may come as a surprise.

However, changes to Google’s search engine page, shifts in device traffic and other factors all add up to one thing. Organic traffic is being rerouted to paid search, social, and even offline channels. It’s not necessarily a negative, though. While traffic is shifting, engagement and conversion rates are growing.

We think it’s essential to hotels’ future digital presence to be aware of the different causes that have led to this traffic shift, and to be aware of which channels are rising and falling in popularity among travelers.

Our Marketing Director Hollie Faulkner has created an analysis of 8 recent changes which are contributing to this shift. Being aware of these changes and their impact is key to getting on top of this trend. Make sure your hotel is aware and ready to move with the times.

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The 8 Biggest Reasons the Traffic Landscape is Shifting

  1. 1. The 8 Biggest Reasons the Traffic Landscape is Shifting for Hotels N E T A F F I N I T Y
  2. 2. As many hotels have noticed over the last 12 months, the traffic landscape is changing. Changes to Google's search engine page, shifts in device traffic and other factors all add up to one thing:
  4. 4. The path to booking has never been straightforward.
  5. 5. Hotels must be aware of the the different causes of this traffic shift, and which channels are rising and falling in popularity among travelers.
  7. 7. the changes + M O R E T E X T A D S + T H E K N O W L E D G E P A N E L + E X T E N D E D T E X T A D S + P R I C E E X T E N S I O N S + M O B I L E U P D A T E S + A D B L O C K E R S + S O C I A L R E S E A R C H + C A L L A C T I V I T Y
  8. 8. more text ads On Feb 23, 2016, Google got rid of right-hand text ads. They now mostly show 4 text ads instead of 2 or 3. Organic results are now further down the page, resulting in less engagement with organic listings.
  9. 9. knowledge panel For some search results, the knowledge panel has become more prominent. The knowledge panel is made of content like maps, reviews, images, and Google Hotel Ads. Hotel Ads allow individual hotels to display pricing and booking links directly on Google.
  10. 10. With Hotel Ads, Google is effectively becoming a metasearch channel. Call extensions on knowledge panels are also being pushed by Google, driving traffic that would have gone to websites through phones.
  11. 11. extended text ads Extended Text Ads (ETAs) are the biggest change since AdWords was born 15 years ago. ETAs are double the size of ads we're familiar with. This means ads with more width on desktop, and more depth on mobile.
  12. 12. On mobile, you now need to scroll past 3 complete screens to reach an organic listing. Early reports show click-through rates for ETAs increasing by as much as 20%, driving more paid traffic to your site. This shrinks organic traffic, especially on mobile devices.
  13. 13. price extensions Google's new price extensions take up significant mobile real estate:
  14. 14. Price extensions are a good way to get more engagement - for example, they allow you to list price tiers for different rooms. Effects on traffic are too new to be measured, but it seems likely that they'll contribute to paid traffic on mobile and drops in organic.
  15. 15. whew... halfway there!
  16. 16. mobile updates The most recent update to Google's mobile-friendly algorithm provides an additional ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites. Mobile-friendly sites won't see much of a change, but if your site isn't mobile-friendly, your organic search results will be even more strongly affected. Time to update!
  17. 17. ad blockers The increase in direct traffic come from 2 root causes: Users are savvier in their online behavior, and privacy is becoming more important to visitors.
  18. 18. Increased use of Ad Blockers is driving more direct traffic. Ad Blockers often strip the traffic source, causing the traffic to be marked as 'Direct' in Google Analytics.
  19. 19. travel research There are now a huge number of travel research touchpoints on social media - not just search engines. Increased adoption of social and travel content means some traffic is being shifted from organic to social channels. Hotels are also driving this by being more active on social and running marketing campaigns on social channels.
  20. 20. call activity Hotels are seeing an increase in call activity. From our own data, we can see phone call extensions within ads are driving significant call volume to hotels. This is reflective of the 'book on the go' nature of users, and may also show continued resistance to actually booking on mobile.
  21. 21. to sum up:
  22. 22. Individual hotels will see different traffic patterns depending on their ad spend, channel strategy, rate management, etc. However, outside influences are imposing these general changes on the industry, and many hotels are taking note.
  23. 23. What matters, ultimately, is driving revenue. And we're seeing stronger engagement and an increase in conversion rates across the board. The traffic landscape is changing - not undergoing a crisis. Changes can be quick and practical!
  24. 24. Our team of creative technology experts have been working in the field of hotel technology since 2000. Our team of digital marketers, web designers and account managers are all focused on helping the independent hotelier. Our job is simple: we make yours easier.