Imagine you are on a road trip and looking for a hotel to spend the night. You pull out your smartphone, and there on the screen is an advertisement for a hotel near your current location. You click on the ad, book a room and arrive at the hotel within minutes. This scenario shows how powerful using geo-fencing technology is when targeting local guests.
TripAdvisor employs three different review and ranking systems. Guests that have stayed at the property write bubble-reviews based on their personal overall experiences. TripAdvisor displays both an average bubble review score and the individual bubble reviews. The second review system, the star review, is determined by a third-party, such as Expedia, and is based on facilities, staff and amenities, rather than personal experiences. Lastly, a hotel is ranked among other accommodations on TripAdvisor.
The growing rate of guests using mobile devices to research and book travel has lead to an increase in the number of inbound calls a hotel receives. On mobile devices, the ease of clicking on a phone number and being immediately connected with the property drives up the number of calls a property receives.
OTAs are major competition for hoteliers looking to capture direct bookings. Direct bookings are more profitable and allow the hotel to gather more information about their guests than if a guest books with an OTA.
In August of this year, Yahoo and Flurry released a report finding that mobile browser usage has declined 50% since 2013 while mobile app usage has increased dramatically. US smartphone users are spending an extra 125 million hours per day on their phones, a 35% increase since the second quarter of 2014. Only 10% of this time is spent using mobile browsers; users spend the other 90% of time on their phones in mobile applications.
Marketing to millennials is critical for the hospitality industry because this segment represents about 80 million people who spend roughly $600 billion per year. Millennials enjoy traveling to satisfy their ‘wanderlust’ and are more likely to extend their vacations or business trips than previous generations. Millennials also value loyalty and therefore are likely to interact and book with a brand they have past experience with. However, their brand preferences in the travel industry are not yet cemented. By effectively reaching millennials, your brand can develop a relationship with an increasingly important segment of the market.
Ask any millennial how often he or she uses Snapchat; the answer is likely to be multiple times a day. Snapchats sent directly to another user disappear in ten seconds or less while ‘snaps’ posted to a user’s ‘Story’ last 24 hours before disappearing. Millennials send friends photos and videos and often use Snapchat’s filters to communicate their messages.
Two major trends digital marketers have recently identified are shorter lead times and a longer path-to-purchase. While these trends present some challenges, they also give marketers valuable insight into how guests book hotel rooms. ‘Lead time’ is the length of time between the initial search for a hotel room and completing the actual booking. Although this time is shrinking, the path to that booking is getting longer. Path-to-purchase is the route guests take from the initial search to the booking.
Paid advertisements and Google products are now top priorities for digital marketers. Google is the dominant search engine in the US and Europe on both desktops and mobile devices and its travel products are pushing organic results further down the page. As a result, ranking high organically is less and less important.
OTAs such as Expedia and Priceline control a huge portion of the online travel booking market. With their recent merger, Expedia and Orbitz now hold 60% of the United States’ market share while Priceline remains the biggest player in the international market. Giant OTAs have huge marketing budgets to aggressively build their brands and reach guests, making it difficult for smaller hotels to compete.