Google has finally released its 2016 Travel Trend Report and there are plenty of insightful information that hoteliers can take away from it to improve their own hotel marketing strategy. As we head into 2017, hoteliers need to step up their game in the hotel marketing landscape in order to out compete their competitors. To do so, hoteliers need to pay close attention to what trends are currently happening in the travel space. A trusted source, of course is Google. In the digital marketing world especially when it comes to travel, hoteliers need to comply with Google’s algorithm and use Google’s annual travel trend reports as the basis to how and what they should be marketing to consumers. There’s no better way to effectively market to your audience than by using actual stats and data to help bring purpose and relevance to your marketing strategy and to provide value to travel shoppers.
Google uses intent signals throughout the customer’s path to booking across all devices to base their travel trend reports. With that said, as you read through Google’s latest travel trend report, you will notice that the way in how people book has stayed consistent throughout the years. Majority of bookings are still being made on desktop whereas smartphones are used more as a research tool for making a booking decision. In this report, Google has revealed the growth in mobile travel search. We see consumers relying on their mobile devices to plan their itinerary, compare hotel rates and flight fares and to get inspiration from YouTube on places to visit once the traveler has arrived to their destination. Google has also seen recurring patterns in how micro-moments are reshaping the traveler’s path to purchase. Let’s take a deeper look into what each of these travel trends are and how you, as a hotelier can take actionable steps to capitalize on the opportunity to effectively market to your audience and to be as relevant as possible to what consumers are looking for in their travel plans.
Insight #1– Consumers Rely Heavily on Mobile for Travel Research
It should not come as a surprise that consumers are still relying heavily on their smartphones to do majority of their travel planning and research. It is obvious that consumers prefer to search on their mobile devices because of how convenient and easily accessible information is on a phone. Google reports that on weekends especially, mobile searches related to travel has surpassed queries on a desktop. Interestingly enough, although majority of consumers often use smartphones to do their planning and research, desktops are still the preferred device to make the booking and this could primarily be due to security reasons. It is also important to note that smartphones allow travelers to be more exploratory and spontaneous as soon as they arrive to their destination. With that said, it is safe to assume that there are travelers who do not necessarily plan before a trip but instead use their smartphones to spontaneously find things to do when they get to their destination.
Actionable Steps to Improve Mobile Strategy:
Now that it is apparent that mobile phones are the preferred choice for travel planning and research, it is critical that your mobile strategy gives users what they want and answers any questions that may potentially arise which can influence their booking decision. Keep in mind that consumers will not want to read a lengthy description of your hotel or its amenities on their phones. There is a clear difference in search behavior when it comes to a smartphone versus a desktop. Consumers expect ‘straight to the point’ information on what they can expect from staying at your hotel. So in your mobile site, be sure to include a list of amenities, high quality photos of your property and a guide of things to do in the surrounding area. Keeping the mobile experience simple is key to getting users interested in what you have to offer.
Insight #2– Micro-Moments Are Influential to the Booking Decision
When it comes to researching where to go, how to get there, and where to stay, consumers will visit plenty of sites before making a decision. Travelers will come across different sites and be exposed to plenty of information that become micro-moments in their booking journey. Each of these micro-moments are influential in the traveler’s booking decision. According to Google, their are 4 major travel micro-moments that travelers experience in the path to booking. These micro-moments are dreaming, planning, booking and experience moments. In the “dreaming moments”, a traveler is wanting to get away and finding inspiration on where to go and will often rely on a phone to do this search. The “planning moment” is where the traveler is figuring out the details of a specific destination, as well as the transportation and lodging information. Again, these moments are often done on a smartphone. As soon as the consumer decides on where to go, the “booking moment” is finally where to consumer will reserve their hotel room, often times using a desktop.
Actionable Steps to Improve Search Experience:
Now that we’ve identified what micro-moments are and how influential they can be during the path to booking, it is crucial that your marketing strategy implements a search experience that is relevant to the user’s needs and also provides quick information. For example, if you find that many of your guests have trouble getting around town and need easy transportation around city, then dedicate a landing page on your site that would be guide for users on how to get from point A to point B using public transportation, like a bus, train or/and shuttle. For real-time information, encourage your guests to use Twitter to ask any customer service questions that would aid in their travel experience.
Insight #3– YouTube Has Been Even More Resourceful To Travelers
Watching videos especially on YouTube has grown in popularity especially among travelers. According to research from Google and Ipsos MediaCT, 2 out of 3 US consumers watch online travel videos when they are thinking about taking a trip. Travelers find the following video content the most engaging:
- Travel vlogs
- Official travel networks
- Travel tours
- Official Travel brands
With this information, there is no doubt that travelers particularly like viewing videos for travel inspiration. Videos can be one of the most impactful ways to persuade a user to want to travel to a destination and book at your hotel. There’s been a growing trend on using YouTube as a source for travel hacks. Videos with travel hacks provide valuable information to users from how to pack to what you can do to keep yourself occupied on a flight. Travel hacks can be entertaining to many users which is why it’s been growing in popularity.
Actionable Steps to to Improve Video Content:
If you have not yet implemented a video content marketing strategy for your hotel, then this is definitely the time to do so especially with the growth in YouTube views on travel hacks. A good starting point to a video content strategy for your hotel would be providing a tour of your property. This could be as simple as creating a walk-through of your property and describing what is special about each room and introducing your staff. Another great idea for a video is having real guests talk about how their travel experience was at your property. Share the positive feedback in a video and post that in your social media channels as well as your hotel’s YouTube channel.
Use these travel trends to reassess your marketing strategy and find out whether these trends coincide with how you’re marketing to your audience. Take these trends and use them as a basis of how you can be more relevant to travel consumers. The more informed you are on how travel consumers are behaving when it comes to how and what they search, the better you come across as relevant and resourceful to them and the more value you bring to the table. Feel free to contact us on LinkedIn or Facebook today!