This is the second in a three-part series exploring current trends in online booking behavior. The series also addresses how our property partners can adapt to the contemporary booker’s needs. Check back weekly for each new installment.
Part II: The Research Stage
Traveler’s mindset: brand agnostic, information-hungry
Travelers approach hotel brands with a degree of indecision. When travel consumers begin researching, only 16% are sure of the hotel brand with which they will book. This leaves open a huge opportunity for independents and brands to win over undecided customers.
While family plays a huge role in inspiration for travel, the internet remains the most important place where people dive into travel research. Seventy-four percent of leisure travelers and 77% of business travelers begin their research on the internet (Source: Google).
Search engines hold particular importance during the research stage, with 60% of leisure travelers and 55% of business travelers using search engines for planning their trips. In the research stage, search terms are more narrow than they were in the inspiration stage. For example, people researching travel might search for “Hotels in Miami” or “Bed and Breakfast Oxford UK”.
Despite the internet’s impact on travel research, some people still prefer traditional resources such as travel magazines, brand.com sites, and travel television shows. This preference skews towards an older set–travelers over 35 years old. On the other hand (and perhaps as expected), Millennials prefer digital sources for their travel research.
Traditional sources (top to bottom): brand.com sites, travel magazines, travel TV shows
When searching for information about destinations, 72% of travelers look for the most relevant information information regardless of the travel company providing it. Not only do most travelers not know which accommodation they will book with but they are also open to relevant destination information from different sources. This means that providing useful information to potential guests is more important than ever, and can actually affect your bottom line.
While a large percentage of people look to their smartphones for quick inspiration throughout the day, many travelers also rely on the same phones to conduct more in-depth research. Seventy percent of travelers with smartphones have done research on their phone. Mobile research has its own interesting trends.
For instance, 70% of hotel searches conducted on mobile aim to find hotels with specific amenities such as, “hotel with pool in Athens”. This trend indicates that specific, serious research can and does take place right in the palm of one’s hand.