Adapting to the Ultra-Connected Guests - Are You in Sync?
By Michael McCartan Managing Director Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Duetto | June 08, 2014
Mobile computing has changed the world. Powered by exponential popularity of smartphone, by the end of this year, it is expected to overtake desktop internet usage. One in every five of world's population, i.e. 1.7 billion, has a smartphone - half of them use it as their primary internet source. Information is available 24/7 and plays a determining role in how people interact and buy. According to a study by Google, the journey to book a vacation begins on the internet with the traveler visiting on average 22 sites prior to deciding on the destination. Consumers are better informed, better-connected and better-engaged across multiple platforms. Hoteliers need to be visible at every touch-point to entice them to their properties.
Clearly, the challenge for hoteliers today is not restricted to competition anymore, but goes far beyond that. Travellers today are spoilt for choice when it comes to information – they can research, price check, review and book the room at anytime from anywhere in the world through third party websites, social networks and direct booking engines. Hoteliers need to understand the consumer's journey towards purchase, from research to decision to reservation. From traditional OTA to flash sites to meta-search to auction – everyone is in the race to get a share of the travel buying market, and thereby causing more confusion and challenges for revenue managers. The days of working with one agency are over, the industry is extremely competitive, and the concept of selling rooms has been replaced with selling an experience. The key to success lies in consumers' attention time and being visible across as many popular and relevant consumer websites as possible.
Are You Connected to the Meta-Search Engine?
The hyper connected travelers want to be assured of the best prices and the greatest value. No matter what is being offered, they will compare rates; and will check at least six sites (Source: e-Marketer) to get the best rate. Meta-search channels, which have grown in popularity in recent years, send user requests to several hotel booking websites and aggregate the results into a single list and displays them according to the rate available on each source site. 28% travelers today use meta-search for rate shopping. Ignoring these channels would mean ignoring a sizable number of visitors who can be turned into direct bookers with little effort.
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