Mobile: 11 Eye-Opener Travel Stats For Hotel Marketers
By Hillary Bressler, Fractional CMO & Digital Marketing Consultant at Pinch Hit Partners
There are many stats that are interesting, some mind blowing, and some confusing as it relates to travel marketing. But there are those stats that are eye openers for marketers that make creative minds to say "Ah Ha", let's try something new based on these stats. If you want your hotel to grow, these stats could make a difference going into the year ahead if you apply them to your marketing efforts.
- Mobile Marketing Emergency
49% of direct online bookings are now on mobile, compared to 31% in 2016.
At the end of 2016 I told my hotel clients to drop everything and put their focus on mobile marketing, especially if their mobile wasn't optimized well. This is still true today. The world has gone mobile and it shouldn't come as any surprise. Put as much effort into mobile as your staff can handle.
If you don't have a mobile-friendly website it's the first, most important step you should take in your hotel's digital marketing strategy. Take out your smartphone right now. Go to your hotel's website. Can you easily navigate and find the information you need to complete the action you want visitors to take whether that's an online reservation, click to call or important information such as location, directions, photos and more? Follow Google's mobile-friendly best practices. Test your site here.
The mobile site needs to be responsive and fast. Kissmetrics completed a study that found 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. On top of that, Kissmetrics found that a 1-second delay in page response time could result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
No one can deny that the hotel industry has a fight on its hands when it comes to the peer-to-peer accommodation market like Airbnb. Research firm Phocuswright found that in 2015 one-third of U.S. travelers booked non-traditional, home-based accommodation. That's a noteworthy jump from only 1 in 10 in 2011. Hotels are much savvier than Airbnb hosts, but could learn a thing or two from them as well. As Airbnb's are becoming more like hotels, hotels could become more like Airbnb.
Airbnb build trust in their guests with pictures of their hosts and co-hosts. You know who you are talking to. To fight this trend, hotels could create social media content that Airbnb-proofs their business. A popular option is to show guests that your team is available to guests. They can help create individual vacation experience in ways that absent Airbnb operators can't manage. You can do this by featuring their individual personalities who are part of your social media team in the content you create for your social media accounts.
Alternative accommodation websites like Airbnb appeal to travelers looking for authentic and unique experiences. Instead of sticking to popular attractions and guide book-endorsed restaurants. Hotels can provide a glimpse into living like a local. Staff can be encouraged to offer up neighborhood knowledge and give guests advice on popular hotspots. Little touches like local microbrews and wines in the minibar or rotating exhibits of local artwork in the lobby can add to a distinctive and immersive experience.
Airbnb isn't just a booking engine; it's a travel community. Hosts and their guests communicate frequently—during the research phase, once a booking is confirmed, before arrival and throughout the stay. By using Messenger apps, hoteliers to interact with travelers and increase meaningful connections.
- Messaging Apps
Number of mobile phone messaging app users increases 15.5% in 2017
Be where the guests want to be. Communicate in the way your guests prefer to communicate. And everyone likes text messaging.
Marriott Hotels is redefining the hotel visit with mobile at the center, enabling members of its loyalty program to engage in real-time conversations with staff before, during and after a visit through the brand.
WhatsApp Messenger has emerged, with hotels such as Barcelo Illetas Albatros using the app to offer any-place, any-time customer service. Chinese messaging app, WeChat, has launched their Mini Program service, allowing users to interact with companies and complete transactions to make a hotel reservations. Since 2015, Hyatt has been using Facebook Messenger as a tool for serving customers at all stages from pre-booking to post-checkout.
With these apps, you want to try to answer the question of how you make the hotel useful beyond that single trip. The way you build engagement with a guest goes much beyond the actual stay.
- Bleisure Trips
In the U.S., 43% of business trips are "bleisure," according to Expedia Media Solutions--people extending their business trips to have some personal experiences in that location.
Many business people take their spouses and families on business trips especially in beautiful destinations. You know the kids want to go with you on your business trip to Orlando, right? Marketers could capitalize on reaching these guests by offering an extension or special if they stay before or after their business trip and offer nanny services or kids clubs. Or even partner with a local daycare so single parents can bring their kids on their business trip.
- Guests Surfing Habits
Nielsen research found that travelers spent an average of 53 days visiting 28 different websites over a period of 76 online sessions, with more than 50% of travelers checking social media for travel tips and 95% of consumers read reviews before booking, according to Tnooz.
If this isn't a good argument for hotel operators that more needs to be spent on digital and social media marketing, I don't know what is. Retargeting is vital in order to follow these users. Marketing sure you have your best foot forward on all of your social media platforms is more important than ever.
There is site, mobile, email, search, contextual and social retargeting. Lure consumers back to your site with personalization and special offers. Retarget to book more guests. You will find it is an effective, affordable way to increase conversions and follow these travelers that spend hours and hours online and are ready to book.
- Destination Marketing
59% of travelers begin researching their next trip between one and three months before departure, says TripAdvisor.
This stat proves that an aggressive local CVB and state tourism agency that markets your destination properly is worth its weight in gold. If your CVB is lagging, now is the time to make sure they are well funded and have a stellar marketing team.
- Onsite Activity Bookings
Data from Phocuswright shows how 38% of tour and activity bookings are happening on the same day or up to two days before the activity. Many of these bookings take place in-destination, while consumers are already traveling. Only 19% of these activities were booked more than a month in advance.
This is the time to have a better plan to introduce your onsite activities and spa to your guests a few days before arrival via email or messenger. Greet your guests with a sampling of your services in the lobby upon arrival. The Ritz Carlton Miami Beach gave me a complimentary arm and hand massage as I arrived and I ended up booking a spa treatment because of it.
- Corporate Travel Growth
Healthy corporate travel demand: Strong economies drive business activity. Business travel is projected to grow by more than 6% in 2018 according to Deloitte.
One aspect to a business travel that is so important is strong a Wi-Fi connection. Hotels tout that they have free wi-fi and preferred wi-fi, but true business people want to know the strength of your hotel's Wi-Fi. Just like at home your cable plan you signed up for promised up to 300Mbps of blistering Internet speed, but reality has proven to be somewhat different. You're barely topping 25Mbps and can't even watch Netflix. We are seeing smart Airbnb hosts, touting their Wi-Fi speed, by even taking a screen shot of their actual speed through sites like http://www.speedtest.net/. Not a bad idea.
- Mobile Growth
State by state, California booked the most hotels on mobile devices in 2016, followed by Kansas, Texas, Florida and New York. States that saw the biggest growth in mobile bookings in 2016 were Rhode Island, Vermont, Michigan, Iowa and Indiana. (source- Hotels Combined)
If you are in any of these states or get business from these states, this is a great statistic to show your boss to get on the mobile bandwagon asap.
- Increasing Conversions
81% of travel shoppers will abandon their shopping carts online. According to research from SalesCycle, travel shoppers tend to abandon their shopping carts more often than retail or other shoppers. The average rate for abandoned baskets across all industries is 77%, but for travel shoppers, it's 81%.
Imagine how much your numbers would improve if you could either land the sale the first time or ensure that you have a second shot at landing the sale. When a guest abandons their shopping cart, not all has to be lost. Thankfully, there is a way to beef up your booking funnels to include second chances. In other words, focus on booking retargeting and increasing the look to book ratio.
For example, if your customer showed interest in a booking, but left your booking funnel before sealing the deal, you can redirect their attention back to you on other online marketing platforms. This includes paid search ads, on-screen prompts, retargeting and more.
This stat is also important when managing your web team. Motivate them to decrease this percentage by improving the website, and/or increasing look to book ratio. Your web team should give you a few goals for the year and this should be one of them.
- Photos That Incite Hotel Envy
Around 80 million posts are shared on Instagram daily. It's one of the fastest growing social media channels, and its appeal is undeniable. More than 25% of millennials that participate in loyalty programs are very likely to post about a brand in exchange for loyalty points.
By encouraging social shares, hospitality brands can leverage social media to build positive brand awareness and display just how much their accommodations and activities have to offer.
Hotels working with millennial travelers should take into account the generation's preference for "experiences over materials." Try to create unique experiences guaranteed to create a lasting memory and to inspire a great Instagram post. By placing beautiful objects, inspiring sayings, unique views and cool experiences, hotels can inspire guests to take great photos for social sharing sites like Instagram. The goal would be to increase your Instagram posts or vie for a position in the like of these hostels.... 9 Most Instagrammable Hotel Lobbies in The World
Whatever your budget, brands are looking to engage customers with compelling, interactive content rooted in authentic experiences. Today's travelers are looking for authenticity and travel marketing campaigns need to align more closely than ever with travelers' desires in order to win their attention. My philosophy is to keep up to date on industry stats, take some risks, put a % of your marketing budget into these new marketing ideas and be 12-18 months ahead of the curve with the goal of digital domination of your competition.
Hillary Bressler is a travel and hospitality digital marketing expert with 20 years solely focused on digital marketing. She has emerged as one of the go-to consultants for senior level digital marketing in the travel industry. Executives hire Ms. Bressler as a fractional CMO or VP to take their properties and destinations to the next level of digital dominance.More from Hillary Bressler