A look at travel ad research, search and booking trends, and a glimpse into the possible future of the hotel experience.
Travel Ads Most Effective In Early Stages of Booking
The most significant impact of ads on users occurs early in the booking stage, with attention shown to decline as the end stages of booking near, according to a recent study.
ComScore’s 2016 Travelers Path to Purchase study looked at the travel booking habits of American, Canadian and British travelers; it analyzed their desktop and mobile device usage, consumed content, resources used, considered destinations, and the effect of digital advertising on the decisions made.
Findings show that the majority of all 3 nationalities noticed advertising in the early stages of booking, with attention tapering as the final booking stages approached. This is an indication that the timing of ads is as important as their content or placement.
The significance of digital content’s presence in the travel community was highlighted; findings show that it is consumed by 75 percent of users in the U.K., 70 percent in Canada, and 60 percent in the U.S.; the consumption of it is growing at a rate of 44 percent in the U.K, 41 percent in the U.S., and 18 percent in Canada.
About one-third of all users were shown to be influenced by advertising. During the initial research and beginning booking stages, users are seeking travel content and are therefore receptive to new information.
While beginning their research, people were shown to shift their sights to OTAs and hotel websites; more than 37 percent of users said they used these resources to aid in their destination decision, and usage remained high while they were still considering their options.
Most U.S. users (65 percent) only considered one destination, but the majority of British and Canadian bookers considered multiple destinations. 11 percent of all users used social media to aid in their research and decision on a destination.
Is Talking Technology the Way of the Future for Hotel Guests?
The use of talking technology on the rise among people on their phones and in their homes, and the question of whether the option a feasible integration for hotel room interfaces is being explored.
Soon, hotel guests will be able to control their room features and services solely with their voice. People are already able to control their homes by voice commands thanks to devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. These devices hook up to the internet and operate on voice controls to provide music, TV, audio books, travel info, light control, volume control, and other services.
Anyone who has already experienced being able to control their living room lighting and entertainment with these devices would be excited to have this capability everywhere they went. But is the implementation of this technology into hotel rooms a practical option for hotels to consider for their guests? Some hoteliers enthusiastically embrace the idea, while others (even those at high-tech establishments) argue that it may not prove advantageous at all.
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons considered by interviewed managers:
- Great bonus feature
- Payroll savings for concierge and phone operator services
- Increased bookings by tech enthusiasts
- Convenience for both guests and staff
- May not work for all guests
- Too confusing
- Cost of implementation may outweigh benefits
- Possible theft of devices
- Noise complaints
- Lack of privacy
- Passers-by could use it for pranking other room guests
- Hardware concerns
Those who are optimistic about the idea like to imagine guess ordering towels or room service for themselves, rather than have to place the order with a person and wait. With fully integrated options, the voice commands would be connected to the TV, sound system, lighting, heating, water, electric, and fire safety.
Amazon is not yet considering the development of any hospitality solutions adapted to the Echo, but the company does make the point that the Alexa product was built with the intention for developers to integrate it into their own products and services. This has already been demonstrated by Kayak, who developed the Ask Kayak service in which travelers can ask out loud about flights and hotels, and receive instant answers.
New Travelclick Booking Engine Results in Increase in Direct Booking
TravelClick is the global innovator providing hotels with cloud-based, data-driven solutions which increase their revenue. The company has just announced the launch of its new interactive booking engine, which is made to maximize conversion while minimizing guest abandonment by means of a new reservation experience.
Booking Engine 4.0 is an easy-to-use, responsive application which drives direct bookings. It is designed to engage the ever-expanding mobile-first population by upping their spending power and travel bookings.
500 hotels around the world have begun using this booking engine, and results are overwhelmingly positive so far. Those hotels which switched over to this new platform saw a 23 percent increase in direct bookings and an average increase of 155 percent in mobile booking; that rate is double what it previously was. Hoteliers should be particularly attentive to facilitating mobile booking, as it was observed that 44 percent of traffic to TravelClick’s booking engines came via mobile devices.
Because the interface is intuitive and visually appealing, guests find it easy to use. They don’t have to read through too much text, they receive instant feedback, and they are happy to get many images; therefore, upselling and upgrading is made easy.
Booking Engine 4.0 has the unique Room Hold feature, which puts a 72-hour lock on inventory and prices; this in effect reduces abandonment and keeps guests feeling engaged. The platform has also incorporated e-commerce best practices in order to facilitate the booking process. For example, users don’t have to manually enter their credit card numbers upon purchase, because now they can simply scan them.
Large brands are able to invest millions of dollars in Direct Booking marketing, but smaller companies aren’t always able to do the same. Booking Engine 4.0 seeks to assist small and independent hotels in their pursuit of investment and strategy in Direct Booking marketing. This is a wonderful thing, because direct bookings increased more in the second quarter of 2016 than did any other booking channel.
U.S. Hotel Searches on Google Up By 25%
Just when you thought that people probably preferred platforms like OTAs, Facebook or metasearch sites to plan travel booking over the old-fashioned Google search, think again – Google just announced that the U.S. has increased its hotel-related searches by about 25 percent this year as compared to last year.
Google is taking this opportunity to bank on that increased search volume by updating its ads. Their Hotel Ads Site allows hoteliers to filter by preferred language and pricing model, so as to be better matched with partners who fit their criteria.
Among recent rumors at hotel conferences and forums that hotels are testing out Google’s channel, this change is significant. For example, hotels who go with the commission model are able to delay paying the cost of booking until after a guest has stayed there.
This may be a better way for hotels to spend their money, rather than investing it on ad campaigns which may or may not be effective at securing booking.
Google believes that hoteliers will find its commission-based, direct booking approach to be ideal.
Case studies were performed, and Google Hotel Ads Integration partners such as Mirai, Seekda, and WIHP agreed to present their findings.
Mirai revealed that Hotel Ambit Barcelona attributed up to 10 percent of their hotel’s website sales to Google Hotel Ads.
According to Seekda, Superbude Hostel and Hotel (in Hamburg, Germany) saw around 13 percent conversion rate with these ads.
WIHP, a digital agency, said that Hotel Atmospheres (in Paris, France) saw an average return-on-ad spend of about 4,700 percent.
Google’s product effectively helps eliminate the middlemen (OTAs), and drives more direct bookings. It also gathers personal information, unlike third-party bookings. Lastly, it allows hotels to re-market to their guests and thus garner repeat business from them.
Hotel Booking in Latin America Up by 45 Percent This Year
Latin America is showing a 45 percent year-over-year increase in hotel room nights, according to wholesale travel brokerage company Tourico Holidays. The world’s fastest growing company in its category, Tourico Holidays also showed a 70 percent year-over-year increase in revenue which it directly attributes to Latin America’s stark increase in 2016 inbound bookings.
The surge in growth can be credited to the increased interest from major global travel market players. Increases in LATAM hotel bookings by country/region were as follows:
- USA: 47 percent
- Canada: 207 percent
- Asia overall: 220 percent
- China: 400+ percent
- Europe overall: 37 percent
- Australia: 141 percent
The Vice President of Product in Latin America for Tourico Holidays. Gisela Blok, also attributed the growth to factors such as Brazil’s improved economy, as well as U.S. and European companies offering travelers better pricing at more inbound flights.
Tourico Holidays has more than 6,000 hotel partners in Latin America, including Wyndham, Hard Rock, Hyatt, Posadas, Sunset, Barcelo, and Marriot. The company also pre-purchases large room blocks at more than 200 LATAM hotels, which in effect opens up “Exclusive Deals” to distribution clients. These exclusive deals guarantee significant savings of more than 40 percent off retail prices.
The company, which already has a far reach, is also still experiencing growth. It already has offices in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Cancun, and Mexico City; throughout 2016, Tourico has doubled its number of personnel in LATAM; currently there are more than 65 staff members located in the region, and the plans are to hire an additional 10 staff members in 2017.
Blok also stated that while Tourico currently has a strong presence and inventory in LATAM, the company will continue to strike pre-buy deals with regional hotels in order to give the world’s travel distributors continued access to high-quality inventory, at competitive rates.