Despite what you may think, people are using the internet for more than just cat videos and cute pictures of babies.
Travel research is one of the most popular categories for internet use. Google recently released their annual report of the trends in travel research online and the results have reinforced the importance of a compelling online and mobile presence for hotels.
Hotel marketers need to keep up with the evolution of online travel shopping, and who better to inform you than one of the most powerful forces on the internet, Google. So, what’s important to keep in mind about the 2013 traveler?
They’re searching online.
When travel shoppers embark on their shopping journey, they usually begin online. In fact, the percentage of people beginning the research process on the internet has increased from 65% in 2012 to 68% in 2013.
Travel shoppers are using the web for trip inspiration and planning. Both leisure and business travelers turn to the internet for research; their preferred sites being search engines, hotel websites, airline websites and Online Travel Agencies. Search engines remain the #1 source for leisure travelers and #3 for business, both percentages up from 2012.
They’re using OTAs for more than you think.
OTAs are continually used for more than just booking trips. Consumers are turning to OTAs and meta search sites for travel information and reviews. In fact 65% of travelers book more often on brand.com than they do via online travel agencies, even after conducting their research on the OTA sites. Savvy millennial travel shoppers are researching on multiple websites before finally booking, meaning hotels need to amplify a consistent message across all platforms online.
They’re increasingly mobile.
Phones aren’t just for calling your mom anymore. Travel shoppers are using their smartphones and tablets to research for upcoming trips, view maps, and read reviews. An interesting bit of information is that people are more likely than ever to use their mobile device to find travel information while they are actually on vacation.
Clearly mobile is becoming more and more prevalent in the travel industry. Consumers are using multiple devices for many functions. People are booking trips across all devices; computers, phones and tablets.
While travel shoppers use these devices, they are looking for optimized experiences. They want their mobile experience to be fast, well designed and optimized. The design of the website should have the standard device size and input method in mind. Mobile is touch screen, so buttons should be easily clickable by thumb. Shoppers shouldn’t need to zoom to use the website properly on their smaller devices. If multimedia such as video and other enhancements are offered on the mobile platform, they should function properly. If a travel shopper arrives at a mobile site only to find they cannot browse effectively due to the lack of a plug-in or faulty code, they will quickly move on to other services.
They Want to Visualize it.
By 2017, Google predicts that digital video will be even more popular than social networking. With the rise of video, visual storytelling is more relevant than ever. Online travel video viewing is increasing amongst both leisure and business travelers.
Travel shoppers are viewing video throughout the shopping journey, while daydreaming, choosing a destination, considering activities, and selecting a hotel.Furthermore, guests are also creating their own video while traveling. Hotel marketers need to cater to this craving to share and tell their story with video and offer opportunities for travelers to join the storytelling.
While travelers are using their mobile devices on vacation they are contributing to the story, take advantage!Guests are telling their story, recording moments of their trip and sharing them online. Hotel marketers need to tap into this video community and share their own content while encouraging their guests to create their own.
Reflecting on the trends and learnings of 2013 is the best way to begin forming predictions about what’s to come in 2014. We’ve seen mobile optimization arise as a “must” for hotel marketers, and video continues to dominate the internet, solidifying these trends as crucial for your plan for the upcoming year. Stay in tune with what the modern traveler is seeking and provide an engaging, optimized experience across all platforms.
To learn more about The 2013 Traveler by Google, download the complete study here.