A Look at How Today’s Travelers Choose Their Destinations
A recent Crowdtap Study Reveals that when Millennial travelers are looking for their next booking option, they rely on UGC (user-generated content) to get their information.
The study looked at how today’s travelers plan out their trips, and how they share their experiences.
The report gives marketers and travel industry brands a great advantage in connecting with travelers from the beginning of their booking to the conversations following the end of their adventures.
While on one hand, this study brings to light the end of transactional tourism as we know it, it also gives marketers great opportunities to interact with their targeted audience by means of UGC. The new norm in getting the latest and greatest on travel advice comes in the form of social media, travel review sites, and in-person conversations.
KEY FINDINGS TO NOTE:
- Planning & Exposure:
- 40 percent of those planning a trip don’t look at tourism ads
- 65 percent determine their destination through Facebook
- 75 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) ignore travel advertisements and instead study reviews, blog posts, status updates and conversations with real people to make travel decisions.
- 62 percent decide where they go based on loyalty program perks and points.
- Culture Hungry Travelers
- 63 percent of people said they used WOM recommendations from people who’d previously visited their desired destination.
- Travelers prefer to get around on their own (by foot or renting cars) rather than rely on ride-sharing apps in order explore.
- 65 percent of people seek outdoor adventure thrills; 63 percent go for local shopping; 60 percent are after the local cuisine.
- The Plan for Marketers: Get Others to Recommend You Via UGC
- 70+ percent of travelers share pictures of their travels on Facebook and Instagram while 60 percent will post stories and statuses about them.
- 45 percent of those polled said they share reviews of their experiences with over 10 percent posting pictures to sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.
- 55 percent of travelers said they share photos and stories in-person with friends and family.
The research demonstrates that travelers rely more on UGC and word-of-mouth to book their travel than more conventional methods of old. Brands and marketers should invest their energy and money into developing methods which encourage good WOM and publicized reviews. Social media and blogs are the most powerful tool marketers can use to get their name out there these days.
Hotel Marketing Strategy: Why mobile micro-moments and dayparting are the trends to watch in 2017
The rising trend for hotel booking in 2016 has been mobile booking.
Over 128 million Google searches were conducted for “mobile hotel bookings,” demonstrating that guests are seeking convenience and speed for their booking needs.
As of 2016’s end, 52 percent of travelers will have booked their trips using a mobile device. That’s a year-on-year increase of about 11 percent.
Google has driven this phenomenon and will continue to develop efforts to do so going forward. They recently made major news with their mobile-first index.
Google’s mobile-first index will rank hotel websites on mobile applications as a result; even for listings shown to desktop users.
Hoteliers must focus on improving responsiveness, due to the fact that about 40 percent of mobile users abandon their booking before finalizing due to their poor user experience.
A new report from ‘Think with Google’ recommends that hotel marketing and distribution strategies in 2017 will be heavily inspired by dayparting and mobile micro-moments. But what are these things?
Micro-moments are immediate responses to an impulse driving consumers to act on their needs in-the-moment on a smartphone
Dayparting divides the day up into parts, thereby making it easy for hoteliers to pay attention to strategies. This, in turn, makes hoteliers very relevant to their guests.
When guests act on their needs in-the-moment, they do so impulsively. Their expectations are high, and their patience is low. Smartphones allow your guests to act on any impulse at any time. This renders quality, relevance, and usefulness of hotel marketing more significant than it has ever been. These micro-moments contain guests’ purchases and preferences.
Dayparting affects how hoteliers conduct sales and maintain customer relationships.
Success for hoteliers in their marketing endeavors will come when they consider doing the following:
- Create a website with mobile access
- Fill that site up with relevant and important information
- Start using a mobile-friendly booking engine
To increase bookings and make more revenue using micro-moments, hoteliers should seek to make mobile booking fast and easy, to suit Millennial preferences and standards.
SiteMinder offers these 4 big tips for direct booking success:
- Make the booking process seamless
- Make your reservation process 2 steps or less.
- Don’t redirect customers to another site, or leave them waiting on information.
- Allow for direct booking, and provide a confirmation number once the booking is complete.
IHG to Only Offer Membership Rewards to Those Booking Directly
An initiative to encourage customers to book directly has led to several hotel chains offering to boost incentives. They are currently accomplishing this mainly by offering reduced rates. IHG introduced their member-exclusive rate in May. This rate offers users a saving of about 3 percent on nightly rates. But now the chain is tightening up on IHG Rewards Club benefits by only offering them to customers who book directly.
IHG recently sent out an email to its members outlining the new changes. In this email, IHG announced that as of the New Year, members are going to need to book directly in order to have full access to the benefits that accompany rewards membership. IHG reasoned that this change is taking place so they are able to ensure members with an optimal travel experience, and says that experience can only be ensured when its members use direct booking. Members can book directly through IHG.com, IHG brand sites, IHG App, Central Reservations. Hotel direct, or corporate travel sites.
So which benefits are we talking about exactly? IHG’s website specifies that the benefits of IHG Rewards Club membership include reward nights, rollover nights, free internet, exclusive rates, and more (depending on level of membership). IHG has already put in place the rule that members couldn’t earn points unless they book directly, and did so in 2014. So members don’t expect any changes there. These changes are not expected to have a huge impact, but they may encourage people who are not current members to get enrolled in the program in order to enjoy certain perks.
Some of those perks are included in being a card holding member of the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card. Getting approved for this card currently earns members 60,000 points after spending $1,000 during the first 3 months. Every anniversary of having the card earns members a free night. In addition, members can earn 5x points when staying at IHG hotels; 2x points on gas station purchases, grocery stores and restaurants; and 1x points on all other purchases. On top of that, card membership also comes with automatic Platinum Elite status as well as waived annual fee (which is usually $49).
Ctrip Purchases Skyscanner for $1.75 Billion
The deal was a combination of cash purchase and Ctrip stock to Skyscanner shareholders, and is expected to close within the next month.
Ctrip co-founder and executive chairman James Liang made his purpose for the acquisition clear by stating that the deal will “complement Ctrip’s positioning at a global scale.”
Ctrip’s recently released Q3 net revenues total RMB5.6 billion (US$836 million) with an operating income of RMB447 million (US$67 million). Skyscanner’s margins are usually around 20-25 percent. Ctrip hopes to see the purchase result in Skyscanner’s margins gradually improving as market share increases.
Ctrip CEO Jane Sun hinted at the changes on the horizon for Skyscanner by indicating that Ctrip will leverage its tech and booking abilities in order to improve upon Skyscanner’s travel search offering by means of cross-selling. Ctrip foresees combining its current back-end price comparison service with Skyscanner’s booking services to produce synergistic capabilities.
When asked about what’s to come of the relationship between Skyscanner and Travelfusion, Sun spoke on a general level about tech-driven business and back-end services going global. Travelfusion is the B2B content aggregator based out of the U.K. and in which Ctrip took a majority stake in early 2015. Ctrip specified that Skyscanner provides metasearch functionality while Travelfusion supplies products. Ctrip plans on giving Skyscanner access to their flight offerings, as well as to Travelfusion’s products.
Skyscanner, who has about 60 million users in approximately 30 countries, will remain an independently run division of Ctrip.
This acquisition comes almost exactly 4 years after
Ctrip’s deal to acquire Skyscanner comes almost four years to the day since Priceline’s acquisition of Kayak. The Priceline Group has a 15 percent stake in Ctrip following investments of $750 million in the company during the last two years. Though the Priceline Group is focusing on its own growth, they also expect to see themselves pursuing further developments when it comes to building out into the forays of chat-based services and AI, which the Group CEO cited as “a key differentiator in the Asian market.”
In January, Skyscanner secured a $192 million funding round, which put its valuation at about $1.6 billion.
Ctrip’s acquisition of the metasearch giant follows its $180 million investment in Indian OTA MakeMyTrip and its recent investment in 3 U.S. based tour operating agencies (Universal Vision, Ctour, and Tours for Fun). Ctrip is currently the second largest OTA in the world, with a market capitalization of approximately $25 billion.
A Look at 5 Big Hotel Trends Currently Impacting the Industry
The Atlanta Hotel Development Forum brought to light some major hotel trends earlier this month, from customer service to balancing dual brands. Here is a look at the top 5:
- Individualized Experiences
Because hotel customers will pay higher rates for a better experience, hotel brands should be intently focused on individualizing the guest experience. And with guests publicizing their reviews and opinions on forums like TripAdvisor, it’s important for brands to make the experience unique and memorable. Many companies are already doing this by narrowing in on trends such as health and local theming.
- The Dual-Brand Strategy
The dual-branding strategy proves advantageous by allowing the owner to eliminate competition while also spreading out costs between two flags. Providing the market has the depth to absorb the endeavor, it’s a wise strategy to deploy, and is working well for brands like AC Hotel and Marriott Moxy, who have combined in Midtown Atlanta. Though beneficial, the practice also comes with challenges, specifically design. Hotels can choose to share elevators or lobbies, and must decide where to merge and where to remain separate. The merge of a Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn in Washington, D.C. will combine the two brands’ differing hotel rooms on the same floor. Success can be had as long as hoteliers make sure to avoid confusing customers by mixing brands which have similar cultures.
- Bank-Dictated Supply
A slowing bank lending environment is now constraining a supply of new hotel units in many metro areas. Banks drive the supply of new hotels. Basel III regulations are preventing banks from adding CRE loans to their portfolios, and this in effect is creating a “soft landing” in the market of hotel development. On top of that, municipalities can make it challenging to build new hotels by making entitlements difficult to attain.
- The Front Desk
Though technology is on the rise and can theoretically take the place of a front desk service, that won’t likely be the case any time soon. People enjoy the age-old feature of a front desk, and its presence is critical to the main goal of customer service. Hotels can preemptively start preparing their front desks to be turned into something else (such as a bar) if and when technology dictates that the feature is no longer needed, but that won’t be happening in the immediate future. It is, after all, the face of your company. Focus should still be put into providing an excellent guest experience with optimal staff running the front desk.
- The Impact of Airbnb
Airbnb’s impact on the hotel industry is still being assessed. Currently, the room listing service has about 51 million units worldwide. But there are disruptors at hand which haven’t ever been encountered before now. The good news is that Airbnb faces a significant challenge when it comes to matching the customer service provided by traditional hotels, especially for travelers who are lifestyle-focused.