NEW RESEARCH: Traveler’s Online Search & Booking Behaviors
- Posted by Todd A. Vines
- On March 24, 2017
Hotel teams yearn to learn what makes travelers tick.
When marketers understand the factors that most affect the decision process of selecting accommodations, they can best position their property to stand out in an increasingly crowded digital space.
A new study published by the University of Heilbronn, in partnership with guest feedback platform provider Trust You, reveals fresh insight on the search and booking behaviors of active travelers.
Analyzing data from about a thousand US travelers, the study follows the path to decision during their accommodation search and evaluation, elements which play a pivotal role in the decision to book.
Here are the key findings:
Pretty Much All of Us ‘Search’
Study data revealed 91% of travelers turn to search engines when looking for a place to stay.
“Google Search” dominates as the preferred search engine source, with 81% of travelers making it their top source of travel inspiration.
Key Search Terms
Travelers were most likely to search terms related to hotels (57%), location (49%), or a combined search including both terms (31%).
A property’s “Trust Score,” or average review rating, is a major factor in the decision making process, second only to an accommodation’s rate.
Stars Go Far
Most travelers (88%) filtered out hotels with less than three stars when searching, and almost a third (32%) eliminated those with less than four stars.
Direct Click-Through Popular When Available
When viewing search results, travelers are most likely (20%) to click on a direct link to a hotel’s website if they have the option.
Hotels Still Book Best
Despite the rise in “alternate” options, study participants largely booked traditional accommodations, with the majority booking hotels (86%), motels (34%) and resorts (34%).
Preferred Booking Device
While the data shows search and evaluation takes place across multiple devices, a strong two-thirds of travelers (66%) preferred to actually book their accommodations on their desktop, with 18% favoring their mobile device, and just 16% preferring to book via tablet.
Preferred Booking Channel
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) were frequently the preferred booking channel, with barely a quarter of respondents saying they favor booking direct via a given property’s website.
Ultimately hoteliers today have to scrutinize their property’s presence in the search sphere to stay relevant, with special attention paid to Google.
The majority of travelers turn to Google when seeking travel inspiration, beginning their accommodation search, and evaluating features between multiple hotels. If the goal is to sidestep OTAs, drive traffic to your website and, ultimately, spur direct bookings, then optimizing a property’s presence on Google is a must.
How search engines see your property has a direct impact on how travelers see it.