At Fuel, we like data. It makes our lives easier, often teaches us something new, and it helps up in our continued pursuit to improve the effectiveness of our hotel marketing solutions. For that reason, we constantly survey travellers and put out our findings in the form of travel research studies. This time, we didn’t do it alone, we partnered with guest advocacy pioneers, Flip.to, to create a behavior study that will help to improve a hotel website by finding out who is visiting, how they got there and what they want.
The behavior study addressed many travel research behaviors regarding average booking times, influential sources, price factors and loyalty programs. The results are compiled from more than 2,300 respondents, all of who planned and experienced at least one vacation in the past year.
Some of the issues that we tackle include:
- Which sources are most influential?
- Why do people leave your site?
- How long does it take to book on average?
- What are the 5 most critical elements in a good hotel site?
- Just how important is price to the guest?
- Are loyalty programs important?
I strongly encourage you to download and read the entire study; however, if you’re pressed for time, or simply not in the download mood, here are a few of our key findings from the study:
- Hotels have multiple opportunities to win and lose
It’s clear from the data that leisure travelers are doing their homework. The fact that the consumer is visiting multiple sites, coming to your site multiple times and spending 30 minutes on your site to make their decision means that they are shopping and comparing your property to others. They are initially looking for properties that look appealing; then they are comparing rates and the specific offerings. Be sure to include as much information about as many different aspects as possible throughout your website.
- Hotels need to have a high-quality design and great photography in order to succeed
The vast majority of potential guests are going to judge your property on the initial visual impact that is made by your website. Both the overall design of the website as well as great quality photography is a minimum requirement if you wish to remain within the consumer’s decision set. They are making an initial classification of the property before returning to do further research into rates and amenities.
- Differentiation of your property is essential
Given that rate is such a driving factor in the decision-making process, hotels must learn to separate themselves from the pack. One clear method of doing so is by incorporating user-generated content such as experiential photos, guest reviews, and guest stories into your overall website experience. If your property is being considered by the traveler, do everything you can to convince them that your property is the right choice over the competition.
- We are in an era of instant gratification
The industry continues to see an emphasis on the guest experience. The concept of ‘surprise and delight’ leading to an enchantment of the guest is taking hold, and hotels are looking for ways to exceed the guest’s expectations by offering new perceived value. The definition of what a loyalty program is and what it provides has evolved as consumers have shifted their expectations to immediate rewards. Savvy hotels will adapt to this new demand by looking for simple value-adding services that don’t add too much cost to their operations. With the onset of new technology such as mobile check-in making it easier for hotels to provide things like early check-in, hoteliers can define and offer new and innovative value to their guests.
- Different people behave differently
We do not live in a one-size–fits-all society. Different generations and different types of people behave differently and have different demands and expectations. These findings highlight the importance of knowing as much as possible about your guests so that you can customize the experience to the individual. In an era where the experience really matters, hotels need to go above and beyond with their level of personalized service.
Download the full study here