Why you should dig deep and analyse the way guests search online

Traveller search and booking behaviour can encompass a huge amount of variables at times, and hotels need to dig deep into analysis to ensure they’re targeting their markets properly.

Because the path to purchase is often long and diverse, it can be hard for hotels to pin down one area they need to focus on. The amount of factors that play a part in a buyer’s decision can range from individual demographics and personalities to broader trends based on technology. As complicated as it can get, mapping out customer behaviour is one major way hotels can gain control over the volume of bookings they can attract to their property.

Recently, Sojern published its interactive 2017 hotel report, detailing many facets of customer search and booking behaviour. From this source, we were able to pull out some key findings that we think hotels should be incorporating into marketing and distribution plans this year.

The guest’s first steps of travel planning

When travellers first begin their search, a fifth have no defined destination in mind, preferring to use search engines to inspire them.

Currently, Google is an overwhelming resource for travellers, but interestingly, branded vacation rental searches are seeing a rise in relation to branded hotel searches, indicating travellers are willing to look at alternative accommodation options.

Where are the fastest growing destinations?

Thanks to new opportunities and infrastructure, some smaller locations are seeing a huge rise in online search interest. Domestically in the US, for example, the top five growing destinations are:

  1. Fort Washington
    2. Gatlinburg
    3. Washington, DC
    4. Colorado Springs
    5. Detroit

While internationally, Cuba’s fresh accessibility has made a big impact:

  1. Havana (Cuba)
    2. Sodankylä (Finland)
    3. Varadero (Cuba)
    4. Lisbon (Portugal)
    5. Thera (Greece)

The most popular form of travel research

Sojern teamed up with Google for its report and according to the online giant, 60% of leisure travellers and 55% of business travellers use search engines to plan their travel options.

This means a strong search engine optimisation and marketing strategy is absolutely essential for hotels.

Here are three key considerations for when you’re planning to target differing groups of travellers:

  1. Key search and booking periods

In the planning stage there is a massive discrepancy between leisure and business travellers.

While 40% of leisure travellers begin searching more than 60 days in advance, 58% of business travellers don’t plan their travel more than a week in advance.

The trend continues with actual bookings, 30% of leisure travellers booking 60 days before their trip, with 72% of business travellers making their purchase within a seven-day period before their stay.

  1. Key hotel segment searches

Large chains obviously dominate search traffic, but there has been a significant rise in boutique hotel searches.

In addition, consumers are very careful when it comes to finances.

Unsurprisingly, luxury travellers investigate a greater number of hotels than travellers who are spending less.

  1. Key mobile search data

Mobile continues to be a crucial component of the path-to-purchase and is primarily used to search for travel, rather than to book it.

Budget accommodation enjoys the lion’s share of this traffic with 73%, while luxury properties attract a smaller share of mobile search volume at 45%.

The most popular time to search on mobile is on Saturday (28%) and Sunday (27%), which make up 55% of all mobile search.

This is reflected in desktop search, which is most popular towards the middle of the week.
More evidence, if any was needed, of the continuing indicator that hotels need to be visible and actively present on mobile devices.

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