What Consumers Do Before Booking Online and What It Means
By Grazia Sorice Ochoa Senior Category Director, Travel Category, Yahoo! Search Marketing | January 27, 2012
If you are like most hotel marketers, you spend a good deal of time thinking about what consumers are doing in the days and months leading up to booking a hotel stay or vacation package. With PhoCusWright Research forecasting that 28 percent (or $28 billion) of all U.S. hotel bookings in 2007 expected to occur online, and an additional 50 percent of bookings to be influenced by visits to online travel sites, it's no wonder that hotel marketers are spending significant time evaluating online consumer behavior.
To maximize results and ensure an optimal return on investment, many hotel marketers are looking to better understand how consumer decisions influence searches, site visits and engagement metrics.
Understanding when to reach consumers is critical. If consumers aren't targeted at the right time, the sale is likely lost, the brand becomes less relevant to the consumer, and over time, market share may decrease. Based on our understanding and recent research, early engagement with Internet bookers is critical to a successful marketing program, yet it is this stage that is particularly undervalued by search marketers.
Travel Consideration Study Design Overview
To better understand the consumers' thought processes before booking online travel, Yahoo! Search Marketing partnered with Compete Inc. to observe the behavior of two million online travel consumers- their travel site visitation and search behavior. These consumer behaviors were observed over 90 days leading up to an online air, hotel or vacation package booking.
The overall objectives of the study were to evaluate the number and type of travel sites a consumer visits before booking, understand the differences in visitation based on where the booking was made (OTA or supplier) and assess the volume and type of search terms used based on where purchases occurred.