Every year, Digital Marketing agency Fuel releases it’s annual research and study on how leisure travellers are researching and booking their travels. This year, their study comprising of a sample of 2900 men and women of all age groups has revealed some interesting data about how people are researching and making their bookings.
One interesting thing that came up was, that unlike what Google data suggests viz. people visit more than 20 sites while doing their research, people actually visit 4-6 sites on an average while doing their travel research.
Another point that stands out from this research is how much people rely on reviews when they’re planning their holidays. In fact, an astounding 84% of the sample said that they would not book their holidays without looking at the reviews first.
The most important aspect for hoteliers that came up in this research was the declining importance of OTAs. More and more people are losing trust in OTAs like expedia.com and booking.com, where they have doubts about authenticity and originality. In fact, distrust in OTAs has increased by 50% over the past year. Holiday/travel planners are placing their trust in channels like the hotel’s own website and tripadvisor.com.
This is actually really good news for the Hotel industry, because according to the research, people are more likely to believe reviews published on a hotel’s website than on an OTA. When asked about the factors that influence their decision when making their bookings, the top factors that came up were: –
- Reviews on a hotel’s own website
- Pictures on a hotel’s own website
- Quality of a hotel’s website
- Review Sites (Tripadvisor etc.)
What this means for the hotel industry now is that now they really need to focus on their own websites and giving the best service possible in order to ensure good reviews. That doesn’t mean that they should neglect OTAs, because people still do their research well in advance, and it’s imperative for your hotel to turn up on all OTAs. But what’s become increasingly important now is paying attention to your websites, content and of course incentivizing customers to make bookings through your own websites instead of going to other channels.
Another increasingly important source of information and research for consumers now is social media. The number of people checking a hotel’s Facebook page before making a booking has increased by 55% from last year.
Another thing that’s changed drastically over the years is the use of mobile apps. Mobile apps offer hotels a chance to give their customers a never-seen-before level of personalization. With customers becoming more and more tech savvy, conveniences like mobile check ins, special vouchers for app users to promote in-house activities, and offers like late check outs and room upgrades for app users are turning out to be big game changers.
All in all, this year has seen major changes in the leisure travel industry, giving ample opportunities to hotels to leverage the situation to their advantage.