PhoCusWright survey highlights the online research and booking tendencies of travelers:
- Consumers use an average of 6.5 sites and devices to research before booking travel
- 41 percent of travelers research travel using mobile devices smartphone or tablet
- 55 percent of travelers prefer to book using a desktop or laptop even if they research using mobile
Given the number of steps involved in today’s average travel purchase, online booking sites are faced with serious challenges when it comes to understanding customers. In a recent travel survey sponsored by Webtrends and conducted by PhoCusWright, travelers who have taken at least one leisure trip within the past year involving a hotel or airline purchase were asked to identify the number of touch points that led to their purchase. Touch points are defined as both sites visited and devices used during the booking process. Survey findings include:
Travelers search multiple web sources when preparing to book trips, and the preference is overwhelmingly in favor of using desktops — 79 percent of travelers use online travel agencies/apps for research compared to 14 percent who use smartphones and 11 percent who use tablets.
Frequent travelers 6+ trips/year, big spenders spend $6000/annually on travel, early tech adopters and mobile travel shoppers use more touch points than the mean, indicating that these travelers do more research than average before booking.
Consumers aged 25-34 represent the most mobile-heavy shoppers, making up 38 percent of the total users who book through mobile. As consumers age, the number of touch points used to book travel decreases, identifying a key opportunity for sites to capture market share within that age demographic.
Top reasons travelers give for not booking via mobile devices are that they prefer to book via desktop/laptop 55 percent, the mobile screen is too small 31 percent, not ready to book when shopping on a mobile device 30 percent, and they are not comfortable booking via a mobile device 26 percent.
Travel booking sites have an opportunity to increase conversions and customer loyalty by providing a personalized, easy-to-use experience for customers who are using multiple devices. The following are five digital best practices suggested by Webtrends to help travel booking sites better understand their consumers and better focus their marketing spend:
1. Discover what matters to each individual traveler. In order to deliver relevant and personalized experiences to visitors, travel sites must take a sophisticated approach to the digital booking process by knowing each visitor on an individual basis. This allows brands to create the most relevant user experiences. By leveraging visitor-level measurement and optimization tools, brands can personally assist each traveler with his or her search and avoid the risk of that visitor booking elsewhere.
2. Understand travelers across their entire journey and on all devices. While you can’t control how consumers interact with your site, you can learn from that interaction — and learn to read between the channels. It’s not just about what a consumer did on a website or a mobile device, it’s about the journey and interaction between devices. For example, research may be done on a smartphone, but the user may ultimately book using a tablet. By painting a cumulative picture of consumers that includes both action and intent, brands can understand cross-channel flows and make informed decisions on where to invest both effort and spend.
3. Test everything across all channels. Whether it is flight/hotel booked or Average Order Value, metrics are essential to the travel industry. Constantly testing and measuring results allows brands to improve the booking experience and drive up KPIs — ensuring brands get the most yield for every dollar spent on marketing optimization programs. Evaluate your campaigns constantly and make adjustments regularly to see which messages result in the greatest return. Brands should continue to evolve the booking process because there isn’t a one-time fix. Channels should evolve depending on season, visitor demographics, travel pricing and other criteria.
4. Take immediate action. Every traveler has a purpose when visiting a site and historical data only tells part of that story. Real-time data is the clearest indicator of current intent, and using those in-the-moment insights to see what travelers are searching for and clicking on is the best way for brands to provide a relevant experience while the traveler is still engaged, regardless of channel or device. By reaching out to a visitor while that person is still thinking about the purchase, whether it’s through a pop up ad, an email immediately after he’s left the site or an offer for a lower fare, conversion becomes increasingly more likely. 5. Leverage technology that plays well with others. . Booking sites must have the flexibility to change and adapt in order to improve experiences for travelers across digital channels. When selecting tools, make sure you are leveraging technologies that are compatible and open. Otherwise, you may be forced to make compromises in your strategy in order to conform to a closed system.
The Online Travel Industry: Investing EssentialsBy Asit Sharma | More Articles August 25, 2014 | Comments 0Barajas Airport, Madrid. Source: Jean-Pierre Dalbera under Creative Commons license.The speed at which the Internet evolves can make milestones from 10 or 15 years ago seem worthy of encasement in a glass museum display. Take this quote from Priceline Group’s first annual report after its 1999 IPO:
What is the online travel industry?
How big is the online travel industry?
How does the online travel industry work?
What are the drivers of the online travel industry?
The number of inbound visits to the country increased 8% year-on-year to 16.4 million. June also broke the record for the number of visits from overseas, at 3.18 million, up 10% from the same month in 2013. Spending for the month was also up 4%, setting a new record spend of £1.97b.
Holiday visits to Britain in June accounted for 44% of trips at 1.4 million, setting a fifth monthly record for holiday visits so far this year, and 12% up on the same month in 2013. Business visits also increased up 6% year-on-year, although they are not yet as high as 2008 levels.
The majority of visitors come from within the European Union, but visits from the rest of the world Asia Pacific, Middle East, Latin America and Africa were also up 2%. David Edwards, head of research and forecasting at national tourism agency VisitBritain, said: “Tourism is an essential part of the wider success of our economy and these first six months have set us up for what could be another record year for inbound tourism.” He also said that the number of visits from emerging markets in Asia and Latin America was “hugely positive”. Minister for tourism Helen Grant said: “It’s fantastic that Britain’s tourism industry is performing so strongly with a record number of visits for 2014 so far and highest ever spend for June.
It shows the government’s tourism strategy is working – creating more jobs, encouraging greater spend and growing the economy.” The head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays Bank, Mike Saul, also commented on the results, attributing the year’s success to increased spending from emerging economies, along with high spending from the US, France and Germany. “The UK’s fine heritage, world-leading attractions and vibrant retail offering continue to attract increasing numbers of overseas visitors,” he said. “With industry leaders signalling increased marketing spend this year at the expense of more aggressive pricing, the industry is currently experiencing an upturn in fortunes.” The results come just three months after the ONS announced record inbound tourism levels for 2013.
Consumers increasingly perceive brands as media companies, a perception that is both fueled by companies creating more engaging content and consumer expectation of more interactive and interesting advertising.
A recent report sheds some light for travel marketers looking to engage more deeply with video content – a medium ideally suited to the beauty and story of the travel experience.
The survey of 1,000 Americans, and 500 marketers, comes from content marketers LevelsBeyond, and points out that brands are leaving opportunities on the table, as many brands don’t believe that their customers even want to see videos from the brands.
There’s also a disconnect between what consumers want to watch and what brands provide. Surprisingly, consumers are especially eager to consume videos that are instructive and teach how to do a particular skill. This insight could be leveraged by travel marketers in spaces where active sports or other insider knowledge could be packaged as a “how to” for a specific destination, vacation or location.Comedy comes in a second, following by product videos, micro-documentaries and animations. Travel marketers should take note of the 33% of surveyed consumers that enjoy micro-documentaries – this result is a sign that this type of content could be a way to hook browsing travelers into a purchase mindset.
However, the surveyed marketers did not match what the surveyed consumers wanted to watch. Brands are focusing less on instructive videos and more videos from their own branded events. A slight focus switch from “event videos” to “micro-documentaries” could be a welcome move by consumers. Social sharing also becomes a very important component of successful online video, as consumers are much more likely to watch videos that were shared within a network. And when a video is trending, a solid 38% of respondents would be more inclined to watch that video.Despite this compelling evidence that successful social sharing drives ROI of video, brands are behind in understanding how this mechanic works.
Another piece of data from Videology shows an immense shift into what video advertisers are seeking for the investment. The jump in cross-screen analysis reveals that this has quickly become one of the most important metrics for video advertising.The videos are pegged to their ability to bring attention and traffic across screens, liberating some of the conversion pressure for one particular platform as its impact can be tracked across screens.Marketers are finally starting to see video as a key component of the cross-platform marketing mix; now brands must be more considered when it comes to matching consumer appetite for video.The full report can be downloaded here.
Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE has released its second quarter results for the fiscal year 2014, beating analysts’ expectations which helped the stock to advance by 5% in the aftermath. In a segment on CNBC, Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia’s CEO has commented on the company’s strong second quarter results, saying travel market is expanding and “online” takes an ever increasing chunk of it.
The travel company has seen its gross bookings number rise to $13 billion in the second quarter and its revenue increase by 24% year-on-year. Room nights grew at a pace of 20%, hitting a record, and adjusted earnings per share jumped 60% year-on-year. Such positive results give the company an opportunity to spend more on marketing and investment, which in turn brings more customers and revenue, according to Khosrowshahi.
“Right now we are in a pretty good spot within a competitive marketplace. […] We are seeing our marketing spending going up faster than revenue but these are big scale businesses when you’re talking about $13 billion of gross bookings in one quarter, so we are able to scale off of our fixed expenses. So I think it is a great situation when you can spend aggressively into marketing but still increase profits […],” he added.
Last week, Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE’s competitor Priceline Group Inc NASDAQ:PCLN announced the acquisition of OpenTable Inc NASDAQ:OPEN for $2.6 billion in cash, in a deal that marked its expansion into the restaurant business. Asked if Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE has similar plans, Dara Khosrowshahi said that such a move is not in the cards at the moment, as there are still plenty of opportunities in the travel market, which is a $1 trillion dollar-industry and growing. He has disclosed instead that the company plans to look for growth in Europe and Asia.
Earlier this year, we celebrated Facebook’s 10th anniversary, LinkedIn boasted more than 300 million active users while TripAdvisor now has more than 175 million reviews. We have come to expect seeing travel & hospitality stakeholders managing accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or even Google+. In other words, social media marketing has moved beyond bells and whistles and is now the mainstay of a sound digital strategy, along with having a transactional, mobile-optimized website and a clean database for frequent, automated emails and/or newsletters. But while social media is now recognized as important, in particular within the travel vertical, managing it remains a constant challenge.
During its most recent annual summit in Vegas, DMAI Destination Marketing Association International shared the results from a recent study conducted by Development Counsellors International, surveying more than 100 individuals responsible for social media marketing at destination marketing organizations across North America. Some findings were real eye-openers, confirming what many observers suspected: while social media are considered important for a majority, budget allocation remains marginal, at best.
This chart shows that 71% of destinations surveyed must deal with a social media marketing budget of less than 25,000$. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 99% of organizations have a digital marketing budget, yet only 60% have a dedicated envelope for social media activities.
This second chart demonstrates beyond any doubt how social media are under-represented in the big picture of digital marketing budgets. Roughly 76% of destinations allocate less than 10% of their total marketing budgets to social media, regardless of the size of the digital marketing budget to being with!
So how are social media budgets spent? Some very interesting findings here, shedding light on some best practices by destinations in their social media efforts. According to the survey, most popular budget allocations are:
- 39% in paid promotion: promoted tweets, Facebook ads and promoted posts, etc.
- 29% in content development: graphics, writing, photos and videos, apps.
- 28% invest in Human Resources for engagement.
- 18% spend on contest initiatives.
- 13% spend their budget on monitoring tools such as Radian6, VocusSocial, Sysomos, etc.
One eye-opening finding is that destination brands with intermediate social media marketing budgets seem to be the ones outsourcing this function the most. In particular organizations with budgets within the 25,000-50,000$ bracket, 83% of which outsource their social media activities, handing it over to agencies and/or freelance experts. We are not so surprised to see that destinations with the smallest budgets tend to keep activities in-house, since budgets are scarce to being with. Nevertheless, it is somewhat surprising to find out that virtually one out of every three DMO outsources its social media activities.
Finally, when surveying what are today’s top social media challenges face by DMOs, again I was somewhat surprised not to see some concerns rank higher, i.e. maintaining engagement, or budget constraints. In fact, the biggest challenge seems to be one shared by many industries alike, and not just in marketing: time, or a lack therof. Over 30% of destination marketing managers identified time as a key challenge, specially with new social networks and mobile apps creeping up all the time and despite of softwares that help managing it all.
It’s no wonder the second biggest challenge is to stay abreast of new trends and technologies that can help making sense of it all. In fact, attending industry events, conferences and participating in various training and webinars is a key component of staying on top of evolving trends and finding out the tools and tech to help managers in their everyday chores handling social media activities.
One last word. Return on investment (ROI) is almost always a key performance indicator in most organizations, yet it remains elusive in particular in destination marketing, where direct sales are not core to their business model (compared, say, to a hotel, restaurant or transportation). Nevertheless, it’s surprising to see only 8.1% of respondents identifying this challenge as key. Does it make it less important to measure? Of course not, but it does reflect how difficult it remains to “prove” social media campaigns, and that destination marketing organizations have integrated different ways to address this concern in some shape or form.
Facebook made major gains within travel and hospitality web properties during the quarter, broaching 70 percent for the first time in a year, up from 57 percent in Q2 2013.
Victor White, director of marketing communications at Gigya, told Inside Facebook:
Facebook has increased its share of social logins on travel and hospitality websites by 13 percent over the last year, at the same time Google logins fell by 8 percent. Social login reduces the barriers to registering and logging into websites, allowing users to authenticate their identities using a preferred social network account. It also provides businesses with rich permission-based identity data, allowing companies to personalize their marketing campaigns and treat each user as an individual. A streamlined registration and login process is great for users looking to book holidays, events and days out, providing a simple and easy to use service.
Facebook’s lead on mobile dropped to 64 percent from 68 percent in the same quarter in 2013, but still dominates as the primary mobile login. Google comes in a far second with 25 percent.
Here’s a further breakdown of Facebook’s rank:
- Facebook still controls eCommerce with 75 percent of social logins;
- In Media and Publishing, Facebook grew to 49 percent of logins;
- Facebook remained steady for Consumer Brands at 67 percent; and
- Education is still ruled by Facebook with 79 percent of social logins.
In North America, Facebook still holds 53 percent of logins, holding on for the second straight quarter. Around the world, Facebook continues become the preferred login:
- In Europe, Facebook passed 60 percent of all logins for the first time, hitting 62 percent;
- In Central and South America, Facebook logins hit 82 percent;
- In Africa/Middle East, Facebook increased 4 percent to 82 percent; and
- In Asia/Pacific, Facebook has seen decreases over the past two quarters, but still sits on 78 percent of all logins.
New Partnerships Reflect Growing Collaborative Consumption Among Business Travelers
Los Angeles, Calif., July 29, 2014 – Concur, the world’s leading provider of spend management solutions and services, announced Airbnb and Uber as the latest partners to join its growing platform to improve business travel and streamline expenses . With this partnership, the benefits of collaborative consumption are now available to the business world: Business travelers are given easier ways to book their trips, and complete their expenses, while finance and travel managers maintain greater accuracy, visibility and manageability.
“This new generation of platform partners reflects the transformation taking place for today’s business customer,” said Tim MacDonald, executive vice president at Concur. “By partnering with these innovative companies, we are building a connected platform that radically improves the experience for the business traveler. With Airbnb and Uber, we are enabling, in business travel, what consumers already enjoy about collaborative consumption in their leisure. Capturing this spend then gives companies greater real-time transparency into traveler expenditure and itineraries.”
The partnerships with Airbnb and Uber signal increasing momentum for the expanding list of partners joining the Concur platform like United, Marriott, IHG and Avis to bring seamless connections to their customers for direct bookings and spend management. Specifics around momentum include:
- More and more business travelers are booking Airbnb properties: 27x the number of transactions for Airbnb captured in Concur expense reports this year over last year. In order to accommodate the increasing number of business travelers seeking cost-effective non-traditional accommodations, later this year, Airbnb will release an integration through Concur TripLink, enabling employers to gain full visibility into each booking to ensure Duty of Care requirements are met.
- Business travelers are increasingly adopting Uber for ground transportation: 5x year-over-year growth in Uber ridership captured in Concur expense reports. Uber’s integration with the Concur platform will provide a connected and effortless experience for all Concur business travelers that use Uber. These travelers will be able to request, ride, pay, and automatically expense – all from their mobile phone. The integration between Uber and the Concur platform will enhance and expand customer visibility into ground transportation spend.
- In addition, American Express is partnering with Concur and Uber to enable American Express Corporate Card Clients in the US to automatically enroll their employees to capture Uber receipts within Concur and have immediate visibility into the spend. This three-way integration between the Concur platform, Uber and American Express will be available this fall.
Airbnb have recently announced and launched a complete overhaul of its brand identity.
Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world through mobile phones or the internet. Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences at any price point, with over 800,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries. It has found accommodation solutions for over 15 million customers.
The launch is not without controversy with a number of industry commentators poking fun at the suggestive nature of the logo in addition to claims of plagiarism.
We like it….and have taken an extract from their blog written by Brian Chesky one of the co-founders that provides insights to the thinking behind the new brand identity.
“In the end, nothing can express our identity more profoundly than the stories of people who make up this community. When we started Airbnb, I had no idea about the people we would meet, or the friendships I would make. Then I met Amol, one of the first guests, who later invited me to his wedding in India. I met Sebastian, who was trapped in his house in the middle of the London Riots in 2011. Before his own mother had a chance to check that he was okay, seven of his former guests did. And I met Shell, who saw the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, and listed her home for free to those who were displaced. These people, along with millions of others, have their own unique backgrounds and life experiences. We all come from vastly different cultures and places. And yet, no matter how many miles may separate us, we are united by the universal, powerful, human desire to connect, to understand, and to belong. So together, with this new identity, I look forward to starting the next chapter of this improbable journey with the idea that first set it in motion—the belief that belonging can take us anywhere”. — Brian Chesky
Read more on the drivers behind the new brand positioning at: