Report: Mobile-Friendly Early Birds Get the Worm (er, Booking)
- Posted by Todd A. Vines
- On December 6, 2018
For a competitive edge, hotel teams should strive to inspire travelers as they’re dreaming of their next trip, and polish their mobile presence for a frictionless experience.
Those are just a few of the key findings from a recent report by travel tech firm Sojern. Here’s a deeper look at the major takeaways.
According to the company’s hotel insights report, most travelers go through the same general path to purchase;
- Experience of Travel
Hotel teams that reach and influence travelers early in the process stand the best chance at driving direct bookings.
To drive home the importance of early touchpoints, look no further than the latest evolution of TripAdvisor. Last month’s app overhaul – essentially evolving the community into its own social network – was largely intended to influence users during the discovery and inspiration stage via sources such as brands and influencers.
Larger brands have inspired travelers by creating stand-alone websites for a given region (Caribbean, for example) or interest (ski, beach, wedding), and populating it with such information as travel tips, event listings and destination guides in addition to accommodation details and specials.
Keyword strategy is another proven way to touch travelers early. Campaigns configured for appearances in aspirational search results, such as “Hawaii vacations” or “best ski resorts in California,” for example, can drive clicks direct to a hotel’s website. “Honeymoon specials” and “family fun on the water” can also lead people to a brand’s primary site.
Lead Time Insights
According to the report, most people begin to plan a vacation three or four months prior to travel, often booking accommodations only after they have finalized air reservations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t know where they want to stay prior to booking air.
Travelers often already have a hotel or comparable accommodation in mind early in the planning phase, narrowing their choices to a small handful of options, reinforcing the importance for hotel marketing teams to capture the attention of the traveler early.
While a short vacation can evolve in just a few short hours, longer, more distant vacations provide marketers better lead time. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the travel, the longer the path to purchase.
Luxury travelers have been shown to take about 70 days to research and finalize arrangements at a top resort, with air and hotel bookings within 40 days of departure. In contrast, mid-tier travelers tend to begin their research 40 to 50 days out, and finalize arrangements within a month of departure. Economy travelers use a much shorter time period based on the destination and possible airfare specials.
Mobile Matters More than Ever
Although most final travel arrangements are still booked via a laptop or desktop computer, increasingly it’s mobile that stokes the fire during the dreaming stage.
According to the report, mobile travel searches made on travel sites are increasing at a rate 43% faster YOY over desktop, and eMarketer predicts that by 2021, mobile will represent nearly half of all digital travel sales.
It only makes since that, with the ubiquity mobile devices, a person can search for hotel deals in the Caribbean while curled up on the couch, commuting via public transit, or during date night. Further, mobile-based platforms such as Trip Advisor have made it a breeze to scan ratings and reviews.
As Screen Pilot has noted in the past, page load speed is increasingly important to for maintaining an audience. According to Google, 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
As the audience continues to shift to doing research via mobile, hotel and resort marketing should maintain a mobile-friendly approach, minimally by adopting best practices such as only designing websites that scale to fit smaller screens, and optimizing sides for a quick load.
While keeping up on the most effective digital outreach tactics isn’t easy, hotel management teams shouldn’t feel like they have to go it alone.
Reach out to your trusted digital marketing partner and discuss whether or not your property is poised to inspire early, and offer an intuitive, frictionless mobile experience.
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