Interesting findings are coming out of the National Travel MONITOR, a survey of 1,590 U.S. travelers co-authored annually by Ypartnership and Yankelovich. Among various observations about consumers’ evolving search patterns, the survey revealed the plurality of respondents first search travel agency sites, such as Expedia and Travelocity, when selecting a hotel or resort.
The next most popular platform? Search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!
Web sites for specific hotel chains are the third most likely place travelers look when booking a roomnight.
Visit first when selecting hotel/resort
|Web site of online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity
|Search engine like Google, Yahoo!
|Web site of specific hotel chain
|Web site of individual hotel/resort
|Meta search engine that compares rates
Additionally, 66 percent of leisure travelers now use the Internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35 percent in 2000).
So what does this mean for hoteliers?
1. If you haven’t already bolstered your online marketing efforts to make your hotel, brand or chain as accessible to consumers as possible, you could be missing out on a growing source of revenue.
2. Closely monitoring your presence on third-party reservation sites is more important than ever. If you see a negative user-generated review, do everything within reason to rectify the situation. Remember: It’s the jilted customers who often become the most ardent and vocal supporters if things are made right.
3. Search engine optimization is key. The easier your Web site is to find through search engines such as Google, the more likely consumers will use it to book a stay at your property. (Nick Stamoulis’ blog, Search Engine Optimization Journal is filled with great tips and tricks to boost your SEO.)