Webtrends Recommends Best Practices to Help Travel Sites Increase Bookings

insights_phocuswrightPORTLAND, OR–Marketwired – Aug 26, 2014

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.

via Webtrends Recommends Best Practices to Help Travel Sites Increase Bookings.

WestJet’s Christmas Miracle, Amadeus invests in the hotel sector, UNWTO on tourism economic development, Expedia Media support the Philippines, PhoCusWright on European OTA market

christmas 3WestJet’s Christmas Miracle, Amadeus invests in the hotel sector, UNWTO on tourism economic development, Expedia Media support the Philippines, PhoCusWright on European OTA market.

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Europes OTA Market Ripe for Consolidation as Booking, Expedia Battle for Share | Travel Research – Industry Events – PhoCusWright Conference

PhocuswrightEuropes fragmented online travel agency OTA market is giving way to consolidation as pan-European OTAs rapidly gobble up market share. According to a new PhoCusWright European and Global Edition report, after jumping 16% in 2012, OTA gross bookings are projected to sustain double-digit growth through 2015, driven by fierce competition among global heavyweights.Pan European brands, led by Pricelines Booking.com and Expedia, increased their share of the regions OTA market to 64% in 2012, up from 60% the previous year. By contrast, just four brands controlled 95% of the more mature U.S. OTA market in 2012, a possible harbinger of things to come.\”Further consolidation is inevitable in Europes OTA market as global players take center stage,\” says Luke Bujarski, PhoCusWrights director, research. \”With the global brands leveraging their momentum and marketing dollars to outcompete each other, regional players will find it increasingly difficult to compete in Europes lucrative hotel segment.\”Booking.com is increasingly turning Europes OTA battle into a single-horse race. The popular hotel booking website now commands over 30% of the regions OTA market.

via Europes OTA Market Ripe for Consolidation as Booking, Expedia Battle for Share | Travel Research – Industry Events – PhoCusWright Conference.

Hotels Fuel U.S. OTA Growth as Air Bookings Decline

PhocuswrightU.S. online travel agencies (OTAs) have long relied on airline tickets as the cornerstone of their business. But sliding air bookings are now forcing OTAs to seek growth elsewhere. According to a new PhoCusWright report, OTA air gross bookings are projected to drop 7% in 2013 as air suppliers succeed in driving direct bookings via online and mobile channels. Hotel and lodging, not air, is now the segment driving OTA growth.

via PhocusWright Newsletter.

New PhoCusWright Amadeus report on the airline industry calls for customer-centric

AmadeusLas Vegas, NV, United States & Madrid, Spain, 5th September 2013:A major independent global study released today appeals to the airline industry to take a fresh look at the age-old frustration of delayed or cancelled flights, in order to drive loyalty and reduce the impact of irregular operations on its customers, both now and in the future.
‘Passengers first: Re-thinking irregular operations’, written by Norm Rose of travel industry research authority PhoCusWright, and commissioned by Amadeus, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry, aims to provide airlines with practical strategies to improve responses to irregular operations, urging airlines to place a greater focus on the impact of disruptions on each passenger’s trip experience as part of operational decision-making during times of disruption.
Deliver a standard service approach to disruptions: Airlines should consider incorporating a standard service approach to deal with passenger itinerary changes. When severe events occur, airlines with such an approach in place merely extend their processes to a larger number of travellers rather than attempt to implement a new, reactive process.

·         Offer ‘intelligent re-accommodation’: Automated re-accommodation technology may provide efficiencies for the operational staff, but it does not always solve the underlying passenger itinerary disruptions. Airlines may want to implement an intelligent one-click solution that empowers passengers to choose alternatives most relevant to their needs. Airlines should also consider investing in systems to gain a greater understanding of each passenger’s preferences and reasons for travelling, including passengers who book through indirect channels. 
·         Provide transparent communication: In every market surveyed, except China, insufficient communication was cited as passengers’ top frustration with irregular operations management. Introducing an integrated, cross-departmental approach to customer service will enable airlines to provide authoritative, personalised, proactive communication – and lessen the need for travellers to rely on third-party sources. 
·         Moderate delays hurt the industry more than big ticket disruption: One of the greatest challenges facing airlines is not major weather or force majure events, such as the volcanic ash cloud that disrupted travel across Europe in 2011, but rather the far more regular moderate delays of 1-4 hours that matter most to customers. In all markets at least 50% of travellers have experienced a moderate delay on one or more flights in the past 12 months, with this figure highest in China (74%) and Brazil (67%). Instances of significant delay are far less common.
·       Travellers are increasingly venting frustration via social media: Globally, around one third of travellers surveyed said they had posted comments about delays to their friends on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, with higher numbers sharing experiences amongst their immediate family or friendship groups using other means. The study calls on airlines to shift social media strategies from promotional activities alone, and to embrace analytical tools that help them to understand the impact of social comments made in relation to disruption. By following this analytical approach, airlines can practice social mapping to better understand the impact of disruption on their brand as well as the sentiment of their customers.

via New report on the airline industry calls for customer-centric. approach

PhoCusWright – The Affiliate Deal of the Decade


The Affiliate Deal of the Decade

Travelocity’s New Deal with Long-Time Rival Expedia Marks the End of an Era

It was the fall of 1999, the heyday of online travel 1.0, among many other heydays.

Sabre, the parent of Travelocity, had announced the acquisition of Preview Travel, then the third-largest online travel agency (OTA). The combined entity would be an online travel powerhouse, pushing Travelocity well past number two Expedia, with whom it had been in a rough-and-tumble knife fight for the top spot.

“This is going to be a very, very impressive business in terms of its reach,” said then Sabre Chairman Donald J. Carty, quoted in an October 1999 article in the Wall Street Journal.

And so it was. The acquisition catapulted Travelocity to a leading position, with 35% of the OTA market in the U.S. in 2000, when total OTA gross bookings reached $6.6 billion. But the experience of being top dog was a fleeting one. Sabre’s subsidiary was quickly outflanked.

Within just two years, Expedia had shot ahead with its market-making merchant model for hotels, powered in part by the acquisitions of two online lodging aggregators, Travelscape and VacationSpot. Expedia’s new hotel platform gave it an edge that left its competitors as well as hoteliers in a daze amid the recession of 2001 and 2002. By 2004, one year after the additions of Hotels.com and Hotwire, Expedia was the U.S. market leader by a longshot, with nearly half the market.

read more via PhoCusWright.

How U.S. Travelers Use Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC] | Travel Research – Industry Events – PhoCusWright Conference

Medium

Advances in technology and increasingly sophisticated social platforms have made it easier than ever for today’s travelers to engage online. From posting travel reviews to interacting with travel brands online and sharing trip experiences through their favorite online networks, travelers are making the most of social media. Now an integral part of the online travel ecosystem, consumers are not just participating, but are actively shaping the travel search, shop, buy and share experience.

Learn more with PhoCusWright’s upcoming Special Project, Social Media in Travel: Mayhem, Myths, Mobile & Money.

via How U.S. Travelers Use Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC] | Travel Research – Industry Events – PhoCusWright Conference.